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When Forest Fires Blaze, How Can We Help?

Devastating forest fires are sweeping parts of New Mexico where I live, and I've wondered what I can do to help. Other states are impacted too.


I'm not a fire fighter. The smoke would make it hard for me to breathe, and I can't carry heavy equipment or dig fire lines. Yet, I am in awe of fire fighters who put their lives on the line to save everything threatened by wildfires. Those fires are often harder to fight because of gusty spring winds and drought conditions.


Firefighters have been fighting huge fires for many weeks that continue to gobble up trees and everything in their wake, including people's homes and businesses. Several national forests in my state are barring visitors because of extreme fire danger.


National news has made the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon fire east of Santa Fe a familiar name. As of this morning, the fire had burned over 303,000 acres and was 34 percent contained. But hot, dry, windy conditions today made the fire even more difficult to battle.


More than 2,100 fire personnel are engaged in battling the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon flames. To date, it is the largest fire in New Mexico's history.


Many of us watch the news, read the newspapers, and wonder what we can do to help. As I think about what I can do, I realize I can't fight the fire myself. But I can be very aware of fire danger, especially in drought conditions. That means not starting campfires anywhere. If one is absolutely needed, completely extinguish it so it has no chance of flaring up later.


If I see enterprising children and adults having lemonade stands or other events to raise money for fire fighters, I can buy their lemonade and donate money to help them meet their goal. I can adopt a local fire station or volunteer fire department, find out what the firefighters need, and contribute in my small way to help meet that need. I may be able to do only one of those things, but every effort helps.


So many trees are destroyed in a fire. I can donate money to help organizations that promote planting trees. I may only be able to donate $10 or $15, but every donation helps. And it lets that organization know its efforts are valued.


There are so many ways we can assist fire fighters without fighting the fire ourselves. And there are so many ways we can help in the effort to plant more trees to replace some of the ones destroyed by fires. As you look around to see what else you might do to help, you will come up with other ways of making a positive difference.


Thank goodness for our brave firefighters. And thank goodness for all the caring citizens, like you, who do their best to help out. Together we can make a positive difference.

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Using Trees to Bring Christmas Cheer

Christmas tree
Christmas tree

December is here, and we are well into the Christmas season. With the generosity that permeates this season, I thought about ways we could honor trees, help our local communities and do something positive for the planet on which we live.


I didn't have to come up with my own plan, because the business in Farmington, NM, where I buy a lot of my flowers and bushes, San Juan Nurseries Inc., already has a great plan in mind. It might be a fun Christmas season activity to check with the nursery in whatever town, state or country you live in to see if that nursery also has a plan involving trees for the Christmas season.


Here's how the one at San Juan Nurseries works. People may come in to buy a live Christmas tree in a pot at the nursery and use it in their home for a Christmas tree. After Christmas is over, they can donate the live tree to the city of Farmington or to any other business that participates. If you are going to do that, San Juan Nurseries will give you a discount on the purchase of the tree.


If you donate the tree after Christmas to the city of Farmington, the city will use it in medians and parks and around corporate buildings. The nursery is working with the city on a botanical garden at Gateway Museum. Some of the trees will be used on the river walk, a lovely trail system along the Animas River that runs through Farmington. Gateway Museum may also use the trees in other ways that promote the Christmas season and keep the trees alive and healthy.


I am sure San Juan Nurseries and the city of Farmington are not the only nurseries and cities that have plans to promote planting trees in the community. Check out your own favorite nursery in your own town to see what opportunities are available to spread Christmas cheer and allow you to support businesses and the community as well.


It brings a smile to my face to think of all the live trees that could be added to my community so that it benefits from the many wonderful things that trees do for us.

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