USA TODAY US Edition
HIGHLIGHT: NEW MEXICO
Along the Burnt Mesa Trail: Conservationists and forestry experts are scouring the Southwest, hoping to gather as many ponderosa pine cones as possible to give nature a hand in restoring fire-scarred landscapes. The goal: 1 million seeds. Even amid a bumper crop, it takes time to find the patches of trees that will yield the most seeds. One spot is a mesa in northern New Mexico that overlooks vast expanses of rugged terrain that has seen its share of fire over the past two decades. With drought and the severity of wildfires on the rise, scientists say seed collection and reforestation are becoming more important across the West.