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Tonto fire officials plan fuel reduction project to improve forest health

Published: Monday, January 15, 2024 - 1:06pm
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Tonto National Forest officials are planning a new project to lower the risk of wildfires and improve forest health.

Workers will use machinery to grind up woody vegetation across 5,351 acres across two of the Tonto’s ranger districts beginning Jan. 17.

They’ll use something called a masticator, which is similar to a woodchipper. It’s mounted on a tractor, which moves through the forest to grind trees and brush, leaving chips behind. 

This will open up the canopy and forest floor, giving the remaining trees access to more nutrients, sunlight and water. The process involves removing some trees in the early stages, so the remaining trees can grow faster, larger and healthier. 

A forest statement said the project will also reduce fuel, lowering the risk of large-scale wildland fires and improve watersheds.

Burned watersheds are prone to increased flooding and erosion, which can negatively affect water quality.