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Every fire season, a handful of people across the American West inhabit solitary towers on mountain peaks to watch over the nation's forests and report the first sign of smoke. It's a line of work dating back 100 years, and for those who enjoy nature and solitude, the best job in the world. It's also a profession in decline. Fully 90% of Forest Service lookouts have been decommissioned, and ever-advancing technology means fewer are staffed each year. In summer 2017, I spent four months living above 8000 feet in a tower overlooking the Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness on the Montana/Idaho border. My essay on life in Hell's Half was published in the Winter 2018 issue of Notre Dame Magazine.
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