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Don Nunley, the district’s fuels specialist and fire management officer, said most of the latest $1.1 million will pay crews to go back into about 7,000 acres of thinned forest around Pine, Strawberry and Payson to cut the brush that has grown back.

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Forest Service snags $1.1M to thin forests

The Payson Ranger District has won $1.1 million to cap a decade-long effort to protect Rim Country from wildfires by creating thinned buffer zones at the edge of each community. The district snagged year-end money other forests could not spend by completing environmental studies on nearly 260,000 acres of forest and keeping contracts in place, so they could quickly take advantage of money dropping from bureaucratic heaven. “It’s a lot of work — a lot of work,” said Jeremy Plain, assistant fire management officer for the Payson Ranger District, of the decade-long effort to complete the necessary environmental studies and contracting agreements.

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