n 2017, the United States Forest Service spent close to $2.5 billion fighting and containing wildfires. It was the most expensive year on record. Governors in Montana, Oregon, and California declared states of emergency. Blazes cost the state of California alone nearly $700 million. By the end of the year, more than 71,000 fires had been recorded and 10 million acres leveled nationwide.
It was a historic, destructive season. Some say the worst ever.
But after all the tallying, the requests for federal aid, the agricultural losses, the hundreds and hundreds of homes and businesses left in need of rebuilding, comes something else—something sort of miraculous. Mother Nature is as swift in replenishment as she is in annihilation: When a wildfire departs, a treasure rises, literally, from its ashes. Morel mushrooms.