She watches for wildfires and sees climate changing the forest

Janie Croxen Ringleberg has been (wo)manning the Springer Mountain Lookout fire watch tower since 1992. It overlooks Pinetop-Lakeside and Show Low on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in the Lakeside Ranger District. From her perch on high, she's seen a lot of change in Arizona's forests and wildfires during that time.

She practices her violin for upcoming performances with the White Mountain Symphony Orchestra while watching for smoke from 31 feet off the ground.

She occasionally spots a turquoise-feathered Lazuli bunting while scanning the horizon for flames.

Her grandfather is believed to have been the first fire lookout in Arizona, stationed at the Woody Mountain tree stand near Flagstaff in 1910.

For the past 30 summers, except for the one after she had her daughter, Janie Croxen Ringleberg has called in to the Springerville Interagency Dispatch Center at 0800 before she starts her shift as one of the few remaining paid fire watch tower employees anywhere. At one point, Arizona had 120 active lookouts, according to the Forest Fire Lookout Association. As of 2011, only 77 towers were still standing and 58 were last known to be staffed by temporary employees or volunteers.

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