DISASTERS

Massive tree-thinning project in northern Arizona is largest of its kind in US Forest Service

  • In this April 28, 2015 photo, a machine stacks logs in the Coconino National Forest just outside Flagstaff, Ariz. The work is part of an effort to restore a 2.4 million-acre forested area in northern Arizona. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca)

    In this April 28, 2015 photo, a machine stacks logs in the Coconino National Forest just outside Flagstaff, Ariz. The work is part of an effort to restore a 2.4 million-acre forested area in northern Arizona. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this April 28, 2015 photo, Dick Fleishman, assistant team leader for the Four Forest Restoration Initiative, shows an area marked for logging trucks in the Coconino National Forest just outside Flagstaff, Ariz. The complex wildfire-prevention effort encompassing four national forests — the Coconino, Kaibab, Apache-Sitgreaves and Tonto, all in northern Arizona — is known as the Four Forest Restoration Initiative. It aims to restore the forests to conditions ideal for wildlife, streams and cultural resources while creating a buffer for communities where large wildfires might devastate the landscape. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca)

    In this April 28, 2015 photo, Dick Fleishman, assistant team leader for the Four Forest Restoration Initiative, shows an area marked for logging trucks in the Coconino National Forest just outside Flagstaff, Ariz. The complex wildfire-prevention effort encompassing four national forests — the Coconino, Kaibab, Apache-Sitgreaves and Tonto, all in northern Arizona — is known as the Four Forest Restoration Initiative. It aims to restore the forests to conditions ideal for wildlife, streams and cultural resources while creating a buffer for communities where large wildfires might devastate the landscape. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this April 28, 2015 photo, Dick Fleishman, assistant team leader for the Four Forest Restoration Initiative, walks in the Coconino National Forest just outside Flagstaff, Ariz. The complex wildfire-prevention effort encompassing four national forests — the Coconino, Kaibab, Apache-Sitgreaves and Tonto, all in northern Arizona — is known as the Four Forest Restoration Initiative. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca)

    In this April 28, 2015 photo, Dick Fleishman, assistant team leader for the Four Forest Restoration Initiative, walks in the Coconino National Forest just outside Flagstaff, Ariz. The complex wildfire-prevention effort encompassing four national forests — the Coconino, Kaibab, Apache-Sitgreaves and Tonto, all in northern Arizona — is known as the Four Forest Restoration Initiative. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca)  (The Associated Press)

Northern Arizona forests are being reshaped as part of a complex wildfire-prevention effort.

Some areas are being thinned mechanically while others are blackened intentionally by fire as part of the 2.4 million-acre Four Forest Restoration Initiative. The project made a major leap forward recently when nearly 600,000 acres were cleared for restoration.

The project is the largest of its kind within the U.S. Forest Service. It aims not only to lessen the chance of catastrophic wildfires but return the forest to conditions ideal for wildlife, streams and cultural resources.

The Forest Service has about two dozen similar efforts nationwide, mostly in in the western U.S., that reflect a focus on speeding up the pace and scale of forest-restoration work.

The first priorities often are in watersheds and the urban interface.