Nature’s Resiliency

November 17, 2020


Photographer: George Seielstad 
Summary Author: George Seielstad 

One hundred and ten years ago, parts of Idaho and Montana erupted in a firestorm that had no precedent and perhaps no subsequent of equal ferocity. Many small fires were burning in 1910, but hurricane-force winds on August 20 and 21 whipped them into a single, immense fire. Some 4,700 square miles (12,170 sq km) burned, the approximate size of the U.S. state of Connecticut. Eighty-six people, mostly firefighters, lost their lives. The U.S. Forest Service was only 5-years old in 1910, but this Big Burn as it came to be called, shaped it into a forest management organization.

The photo above was taken on July 12, 2020, almost exactly 110 years after the Big Burn, from the Stateline Trail that threads the Idaho-Montana border. The view is looking toward Montana. What was a devastated, scorched landscape is now a rich, extensive forest. Nature, given time, has superb recovery powers.