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Nature replants its own burned forests, environmentalists say

Nature replants its own burned forests, environmentalists say

During the dry summer of 2011, wind gusts sent a 75-foot aspen tumbling into a power line, sparking a fire on federal land that burned for five weeks over an area the size of Manhattan. All that was left in the hottest burn zones was a silent swath of blackened trees and ash-covered ground.

Federal foresters decided the towering ponderosa pines would never return and declared the area dead, the first step in a process to allow timber companies to harvest trees on public land that would otherwise be off-limits.

But a growing body of fire research indicates that the federal salvage strategy creates more problems than it solves by stunting tree regrowth, denying habitat to a...

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