The factors that set up trouble in the Southwest’s forests are complex – a warming climate and forest management practices over the 20th century that allowed a terrifying buildup of fuel. There was simply too much wood and plant material for the ecosystem to support, said Allen, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey who has been studying the relationship between forest, fire and climate in the Jemez Mountains for 25 years. Something had to give.
That set the stage. Epic drought lit the match.
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