Pentimento: Fuels Reduction and Restoration in the Bosque of the Middle Rio Grande

Pentimento: Fuels Reduction and Restoration in the Bosque of the Middle Rio Grande

We are in a continual process of reworking the ecosystems of our planet. The compositions we have produced on our landscape canvas have ranged from inelegant to deleterious. Such is the picture of the Middle Rio Grande of New Mexico, the most extensive, remaining bosque, or cottonwood forest in the southwest. Many of the forms produced by our earlier vision have disrupted natural processes and allowed highly flammable exotic plants to replace native trees that are not fire-adapted. The unintended consequence of our work is a landscape prone to fires that destroy forests. A pentimento is an alteration in a painting, an area repainted to remove forms or rework earlier ones. A pentimento, when discovered by the viewer, reveals the artist changed his mind about the composition. Like the great artists while in the process of creation, we now view our works with a different eye.  Deborah Finch, team leader with the USDA Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station, has looked at our creation in the bosque, and offers techniques to restore the elements of a more harmonious composition.

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