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New Coconino National Forest Management Plan Emphasizes Forest Health and Resilience

Brady Smith/U.S. Forest Service/Coconino National Forest

Managers with the Coconino National Forest have completed their revised management plan. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, it emphasizes forest health and thinning initiatives to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire.

Coconino officials say drought, climate change, disease and flooding pose long-term threats to the 2 million-acre forest. The new plan provides a framework for management through commercial timber harvest and the removal of dense biomass.

"There’s a lot of action still to be taken to push that reset button in terms of moving our forests from the overstocked condition they’re in now to a much healthier, resilient landscape that we all want where fire can play its natural role," says Coconino National Forest Supervisor Laura Jo West.

West says the new plan includes updated guidance in managing naturally occurring wildfires to burn dry forest fuels. In addition, it focuses on supporting local economies that depend on the Coconino including tourism and livestock grazing, and expanding future motorized and non-motorized access.

Federal law requires national forest officials to periodically update management plans. The Coconino’s last major revision was in 1987.

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Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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