A newly authorized project calls for forest thinning and prescribed fires to protect watersheds that feed a reservoir serving the city of Payson in east-central Arizona.
Coconino National Forest officials recently announced the 100-square-mile (259-sq. kilometer) project. They say the work around C.C. Cragin Reservoir will help protect the water source, wildlife habitat and infrastructure from severe fire, erosion and flooding.
Severe fire creates heat that scorches soil, causing precipitation to flow across the ground rather than be absorbed by it.
Plans for call for a combination of mechanical and hand thinning with prescribed burns over several years.
Officials say the work could begin as early as this fall.