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New Growth at Yellowstone

By Chuck Clifton

New Growth at Yellowstone

In 1988, there were some huge forest fires in Yellowstone National Park. A large percent of the park was burned. We have been back there a couple of times since the fires occurred, and the sight would have been very sad—if we would have let it.

I loved Yellowstone so much that I didn’t want to remember it all burned up. So, when we returned in 2000, I had our digital camera with me, and I tried to take pictures of the area that would make me appreciate the fires of Yellowstone. 

As we drove through the park, we noticed huge sections where tall Lodgepole Pine Trees stood with no branches on them. The burned trees were dead, and this left an obvious negative view that most people probably took home with them. However, I noticed that near the base of the standing dead trees, there was a twelve-year-old forest of bright green. These were brand new trees doing their best to catch up with their ancestors in height and stature. I took many pictures of these smaller, next generation trees in various stages of their development.  

I related the growth and progress of the young trees to the growth and progress of the children that we are trusted with today. Not that we are a bunch of old burned out Lodgepole Pines, but the analogy works. You see, the Lodgepole Pine has two kinds of pinecones. One kind falls off the tree, and when it opens up on the ground, a new tree is born. The other kind remains on the tree or it can lie dormant on the forest floor until it is opened up by severe heat, as is the case when there is a forest fire. This is a way in which the Lodgepole Pine Tree can Prepare For Later by producing pine cones that will not spill their seeds until heated by a forest fire.

We were seeing trees from the latter kind of pinecone as the new forest was developing in Yellowstone. I explained this to our family, and we came away with good memories of Yellowstone that year. We didn’t focus on the fact that so much of it had burned, but that it was healing and progressing as designed. It was a good reminder that life is what you make it. 

Without the concept of preparing for the future, the Lodgepole Pine Tree just might have become extinct a long time ago. But, by preparing ahead of time for a forest fire, the forest can be replenished and the forest turns an otherwise bad situation into a beautiful experience.

May we follow the example of the forests of Yellowstone as we Prepare For Later.

Nitro-Pak Preparedness Center, Inc.

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