Two prescribed burns are planned this week south of Mormon Lake on the Mogollon Rim Ranger District and the Flagstaff Ranger District, both in Mexican spotted owl habitat.
Fire managers typically avoid using prescribed burns in Protected Activities Centers in order to preserve habitat.
The U.S. Forest Service has partnered with the Fish and Wildlife Service to study the owls in these protected centers while simultaneously studying owls in different centers not having prescribed burns.
Forest Service officials say the burns also are important to help restore the ecological integrity of the area and reduce the risk of severe wildfire in the future.
Given the complexity of introducing fire in Protected Activities Centers while at the same time trying to preserve vital habitat, burning will be slower and more methodical.