A native plant to New Mexico, Fireweed rapidly regenerates damaged areas.

Historically, fire season in the Southwest usually doesn't start until late spring, but severe drought conditions and a warming climate have caused the season to start earlier this year. In addition, high winds during the early spring months have produced an alarming increase in wildfires, particularly here in New Mexico. In response, President Biden issued a Disaster Declaration early last month.

Wildfires take a terrible toll on vegetation, wildlife and communities. What remains is a desolate version of what was. A once-flourishing forest canopy becomes a choppy, char-covered outline — an affront to both the landscape and the ecosystem. It makes one wonder, Will it ever grow back to the way it was, and if so, how long will that take?

While vegetation can regenerate within three to five years, a severely damaged area can take 60 to 100 or more years to recover fully. With the current high incidence of wildfires and rising climate temperatures, New Mexico is looking at a very long recovery from wildfire destruction.

After a fire, fireweed helps the landscape heal.

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