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Forest managers take advantage of spring weather and schedule prescribed burns

One way to prevent wildfire is to reduce the amount of fuel in the forest.

So fire managers throughout the state are conducting prescribed burns to do just that.

For more than a century, government agencies battled wildfire aggressively.

Then researchers found that fire can help clean the forest floor of debris, and today, foresters burn excess fuel when conditions allow.

Operations have begun in Tonto National Forest, in southern Arizona near Sonoita, and in Coconino National Forest near Flagstaff.

"There’s a lot that has to go perfectly right in order for us to execute the prescribed burns," said Randi Shaffer of Coconino National Forest. "You know we can’t have no winds. We need a little bit of wind to push that fire across the landscape. We can’t have high winds, because that’s how a fire escapes the prescription. We have to make sure that everything is perfectly defined."

Earlier this month, the Bureau of Land Management said it would conduct burns on the Arizona Strip through May.

Ron Dungan was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2020 to 2024.