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Articles on US West

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Won’t you be my neighbor? Dennis Fast/ VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Will Colorado bring back wolves? It’s up to voters

For the first time in the US, a ballot measure will ask voters whether to restore wolves to a place where they've been eradicated. Coloradans have strong views on both sides.
A mixed-conifer forest in the central Sierra Nevada after restoration, with unthinned forest in the background. Roger Bales

Restoring California’s forests to reduce wildfire risks will take time, billions of dollars and a broad commitment

Restoring western forests – thinning out small trees and dead wood – is an important strategy for reducing the risk of massive wildfires. But these projects aren't fast, easy or cheap.
An airtanker drops retardant to help stop the spread of the 2015 Eyrie Fire in the foothills of Boise, Idaho, which was ignited by sparks from construction equipment. Austin Catlin, BLM/Flickr

Humans ignite almost every wildfire that threatens homes

Wildfires aren't always wild. Many of the most expensive and damaging fires happen in suburban areas, and nearly all blazes in these zones are started by humans.
The white “bathtub ring” around Arizona’s Lake Mead (shown on May 31, 2018), which indicates falling water levels, is about 140 feet high. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

Western states buy time with a 7-year Colorado River drought plan, but face a hotter, drier future

Western states adopted a 7-year plan in May 2019 to manage low water levels in the Colorado River. Now they need to look farther ahead and accept that there will be less water far into the future.
Smoke billows from the High Park wildfire west of Fort Collins, Colo., on June 11, 2012, a year of historic drought across much of the western United States. AP Photo/Ed Andrieski

Climate change is driving wildfires, and not just in California

Some observers have blamed recent wildfires on poor forest management, while others point to climate change. In fact, a climate scientist explains, reducing fire risks means tackling both issues.
The 2016 Maple fire (photographed in July 2017) reburned young forests that had regenerated after the 1988 Yellowstone fires. More frequent high-severity fires are expected in the future as climate warms, which may change patterns of forest recovery. Monica Turner

Here’s how forests rebounded from Yellowstone’s epic 1988 fires – and why that could be harder in the future

Huge fires roared through Yellowstone National Park in the summer of 1988, scorching one-third of the park. Since then the park has been a valuable lab for studying how forests recover from fires.
‘Early Days.’ Detail of Frank Happersberger’s pioneer monument, San Francisco, California, 1894. Photo by Lisa Allen. Cynthia Prescott

Think Confederate monuments are racist? Consider pioneer monuments

Many cities are removing their Confederate statues. But pioneer monuments represent a racist past, too. There are at least 200 of them, and their future is now being debated.

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