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Controlled burns scheduled near Tonto National Forest, Fredonia and Munds Park

Even as climate change warms the Sonoran Desert, metro Phoenix residents can look forward to cooler temperatures during the holidays.

The season also marks the arrival of prescribed burns in the Arizona high country.

For decades, the Forest Service put out all wildfires in order to conserve timber. But researchers later learned that fire plays a role in keeping ponderosa forests clean and healthy.

By that time, fuel had built up throughout the West, leaving public lands agencies with some difficult decisions.

One way to clear excess fuel is to burn it, and so Tonto National Forest will carry out a number of burns over the next few months.

It will also allow Payson area property owners to bring yard debris to burn at a number of locations.

The Bureau of Land Management has scheduled burns near Fredonia, and Coconino National Forest will carry out pile burns near Munds Park.

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