Photo detail

A century of fire suppression has resulted in a dramatic decline in juniper and pines — especially along the ecological divide of the Mogollon Rim.

Stories this photo appears in:

Unhinged ecosystem poses threat to Rim communities

The ancient tree reared, dizzyingly upward, the center pole of a complex, now beleaguered ecosystem. The gigantic ponderosa pine had put down roots before the pilgrims landed, and now stood impassively in a cathedral of giants, sheltering a whole world of creatures. High overhead, a woodpecker scavenged for insects, burrowing through the deep crevices and barked canyons of the giant tree. At my feet, lay the debris of a pine cone scavenged by a tuft-eared Abert's squirrel. I pulled loose a bit of bark, and inhaled the distinctive ponderosa scent of vanilla, a bouquet produced by the complex mix of chemicals that help defend the ancient tree against insects, disease and drought.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.