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A Fire Lookout On What's Lost In A Transition To Technology


Added 09-15-19 06:06:02am EST - “The number of manned fire lookouts in the U.S. is dwindling, as technology is increasingly used to spot and monitor wildfires. But can technology replace a human watch?” - Npr.org

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Npr.org: “A Fire Lookout On What's Lost In A Transition To Technology”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

A single tree burns in southwest New Mexico after a lightning strike. For more than a hundred years, the U.S. Forest Service has been posting men and women atop mountains and trees, and in other hard-to-reach places, to wait and watch for smoke. Nathan Rott/NPR hide caption

A single tree burns in southwest New Mexico after a lightning strike. For more than a hundred years, the U.S. Forest Service has been posting men and women atop mountains and trees, and in other hard-to-reach places, to wait and watch for smoke.

There's a flash of lightning, sizzling across the sky. Then, a pause, as bark smolders and flames creep, building heat until poof: a signal in the sky.

Philip Connors, gazing outward from a tower, sees it as a new dent on the crest of a distant ridge. He's spent thousands of hours contemplating the contours of southwest New Mexico. The fuzzy smudge is out of place.

Philip Connors has spent 17 summers as a fire lookout in the Gila National Forest. Lookouts are the eyes in the forest, even as the forests they watch have changed, shaped by developers, shifting land management policies and climate change. Nathan Rott/NPR hide caption

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