Fire crews are taking advantage of dry weather in Central and Eastern Oregon to complete some prescribed burning projects.

Just outside Bend, firefighters are burning 400 acres that butt up against one of the city's southern-most subdivisions. Hazardous fuel teams prefer to burn in spring and fall when the fires can be more easily controlled.

Doug Johnson is the Fire Management Officer for the Bend/Fort Rock Ranger District. He says more than a century of fire suppression has caused these lands to become overgrown.

"I've read the surveyor's notes from the 1870s, 80s and 90s and they talked of trees that were 6 to 10 per acre. And if you look at our forests today, it's not uncommon for us to have 250 to 400 trees per acre."

Johnson says the burns are designed to mimic the natural fire that would historically move throughout this part of the state every 7 to 15 years.

He says the burns not only improve the health of the forest, but they also create buffer zones that protect surrounding communities from wildfire.

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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