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ALONG THE BURNT MESA TRAIL, N.M. (AP) — Conservationists and forestry experts are scouring the American Southwest, hoping to gather as many ponderosa pine cones as possible to give nature a hand in restoring fire-scarred landscapes.
The goal: One million seeds.
It might sound lofty, but those helping with the project are looking to take advantage of a rare bumper crop this fall that has resulted from back-to-back summer and winter seasons of much needed rain and snow.
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 last 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.