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A drop in the bucket.

The Kraft Springs Complex was only one fire, in one forest, in one state. Our National Forests are among the best resources our country has to fight overdevelopment, deforestation, and global warming. They sequester the carbon that we produce so excessively, they filter water and air, and they contain fragile ecosystems, many of which are home to rare and endangered species. Yet all over the country these forests are falling victim to pests, diseases, encroaching development, and most of all, fire. Millions of acres of National Forests are incinerated by wildfires annually; a trend that has continued to increase with every passing year. The National Forests are too valuable to leave in ruins; they have to be replanted, cared for, and made healthier and less susceptible to fire.

In the Custer alone, more than 10,000 acres have been consumed so far just this year. Since the Kraft Springs fire, the National Forests in Montana alone have lost more than 1.5 million acres to wildfires. Here are just a few of the many blazes that have torn through the Northern Rockies since 2002:

Ahorn Wildland Fire

July, 2007 - Lewis and Clark National Forest This fire, sparked by lightning in the Lewis and Clark National Forest among the Rocky Mountains, led to more than half the enormous Forest being closed to visitors for their own safety. The fire spread to more than 52,000 acres before it could be fully contained, leaving a swath of devastated forest in its wake.

Little Salmon Creek Fire

July, 2003 - Flathead National Forest Don't let its name fool you; this inferno was anything but little; in fact, it took more than two months to be contained. At first, the Forest Service tried to use the blaze to accomplish its fire use objectives, but as the flames grew over weeks, it became obvious that it was out of control. It was even broken up in official records into two separate fires, one being used as resource control and the other an official wildfire. Had the two remained recorded as one fire, it would have surpassed 80,000 acres. As it is, the Little Salmon Creek Wildfire Complex burned through 46,078 acres of the Flathead National Forest.

Derby Mountain Fire

August, 2006 - Gallatin National Forest In size, resources expended, and time taken to overcome it, the Derby Mountain Fire of 2006 is among the most terrifying and devastating that the Northern Rockies region has experienced in the last decade. Beginning at the end of August and blazing through early October, the inferno that became a national concern burned down 223,570 acres, the vast majority of it in the Gallatin National Forest.

Rombo Mountain Fire

July, 2007 - Bitterroot National Forest

Like so many others, this fire was started by a lightning strike in the forest. Odds were stacked in the fire's favor from the beginning, with dry weather spurring it on, and high winds making it even more difficult for the firefighting teams to extinguish it. For over a month, the fire blazed. It was finally contained in mid-September, but not before it took out 27,800 acres of the Bitterroot National Forest.

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Trapper Creek Complex

July, 2003 - Glacier National Park

This monster of a fire burned from mid-July all the way through early November, being fully contained when Mother Nature herself finally pitched in with some snow. Years later, despite replanting and recovery, there are still large, dark swaths of charred trees twining through the park, damage leftover from the 70,406 acres of fire.

Conger Creek Fire

July, 2007 - Lolo National Forest

Much like Kraft Springs, this fire picked up a great amount of its intensity from fuel left over from a previous fire. This one managed to reburn 24,930 acres before it was contained.
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Title Annotation:wildfires
Publication:American Forests
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2008
Words:635
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