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Tonto Forest burning.

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Forest Service letting wildfires burn

Thousands of acres in the Tonto National Forest continued to burn over the weekend. Ironically enough, Forest Service rangers couldn’t be happier. Instead of rushing to douse the flames, forest managers are mostly taking advantage of the cool conditions to let the fires burn — mindful of the growing body of research demonstrating the value of low-intensity fires at the right time of the year. Recent studies have demonstrated that such low-intensity, controlled burns actually increase the diversity of plants and wildlife in the forest. Another recent study of tree-ring data going back hundreds of years has underscored that Southwestern forests have adapted to fire frequencies as often as once every two years.

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