CLE ELUM, Wash. (AP) — To restore a forest and reduce the risk of severe wildfires, a conservation group is cutting down trees.

But it's not a typical commercial logging operation. The Nature Conservancy is selectively logging dry forests in Washington's Central Cascade Mountains as part of a long-term plan to make thousands of privately owned forestland more resilient to fire, disease and climate change.

A century of wildfire suppression has resulted in overgrown trees that are ripe for fire. So the group is weeding out smaller trees that can serve as kindling for larger fires. They're also leaving behind bigger, older and more fire-resistant ponderosa pines.

The project outside the city of Cle Elum represents a fraction of the acres that some say need to be treated to prevent intense future fires in eastern Washington.

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