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Arizona champ survives fires.

editor: Last summer wildfires in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson devastated 83,000 acres of beautiful mountain woodland on Coronado National Forest. These fires destroyed the mountain village of Summerhaven and later provided the charred background for President Bush's nationally televised speech calling for action to prevent such future disasters.

Tree lovers down in the Tucson valley watched as the blaze and smoke consumed thousands of acres of beautiful, rare Arizona cypress. Down in a deep canyon in the middle of the hottest part of the fires was our national champion cypress, a magnificent specimen estimated to be 500 years old with a diameter of nearly 7 feet. It was months after the fire before the Forest Service allowed us to inspect the burned areas.

It was with some trepidation that we approached the site; directly upslope from the champion many hundreds of cypress trees had been killed. But our tree, with its feet in the creek in the bottom of Bear Canyon, was unhamed, its bark not even charred. Nominated almost 50 years ago, this tree was one of Arizona's first national champions. Having survived centuries of unrecorded drought, wildfires, flood, and windstorm, our champion still reigns.

Robert Zahner

Big Tree Coordinator, Arizona

Tucson, Arizon
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Title Annotation:Letters
Author:Zahner, Robert
Publication:American Forests
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Mar 22, 2004
Words:208
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