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Derek von Briesen | profile | all galleries >> Odds & Ends >> The Ghost Trees of Bear Wallow tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

The Ghost Trees of Bear Wallow







This is not how aspens are supposed to look . . .

In search of fall color, I woke one stormy morning recently at the virtual epicenter of the 2011 Wallow Fire that consumed 538,049 acres of Arizona's
White Mountains, making it the largest wildfire in the state's history. Having driven the area twice before, I had a general idea of the
damage, but in the early morning light and mist, after an intense night replete with thunder, lightning, pouring rain,
camping in the forest, it felt somehow more visceral, more tragic, more real.

With blackened trunks seeming to pour blood from open wounds, & firestorm-swept bare branches, these "Ghost Trees of Bear Wallow," with a
strange, eerie beauty, bespeak the tragedy of hundreds of thousands of acres of aspens & mixed conifers, lost for
generations as the result of yet another self-inflicted, unnecessary wildfire.

Much has been done in the years since to hasten the forest's recovery, but standing atop Big Lake Overlook later that same day, looking to the south,
as far as the eye could see, lay twenty miles of nothing but burned-out trunks, an apocalyptic display of what many see as the road forward
in the drought-parched, climate-changed, bark beetle-decimated West.

Trees grow back, but it takes generations. For many, all they'll know of huge swaths of the White Mountains will be ghost trees. So sad.



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