By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
The mission was to rescue tens of thousands of invaluable tree sprouts from a research center in New Mexico and to keep safe a vital bank of millions of pine, spruce and other conifer seeds that will be used to restore fire-ravaged landscapes across the West. Owen Burney and his team succeeded in evacuating most of the priceless collection. But the superintendent of New Mexico State University’s Forestry Research Center says the massive fire still churning through New Mexico highlights the need for collecting more seed, building more nurseries and planting more seedlings. The center is one of only a few such nurseries in the US and stands at the forefront of a major undertaking to rebuild more resilient forests as wildfires burn hotter, faster and more often.