SEATTLE (AP) — Federal officials hoping to reduce the threat of wildfires plan controlled burns on 9,000 acres (3642 hectares) on the east slope of the Cascade Range in Washington state.

The Seattle Times reports that the controlled burns this spring in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest are part of a plan to increase the pace of intentionally set fires to reduce fuel loads.

Officials say the work includes partnerships with landowners.

State lawmakers last year approved $800,000 in pilot projects for the prescribed burns. Fifteen were approved in the plan that also includes air-quality monitoring and public education.

Scientists say controlled burns keep forests healthier by reducing dense stands of timber that have developed following decades of fire suppression.

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