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Forestry officials begin Ozarks area restoration

Associated Press Modified: September 22, 2012 at 7:31 pm •  Published: September 22, 2012

Forestry officials on Saturday toured the Ozark National Forest in northwestern Arkansas, an area where work is under way to restore the Bearcat Hollow region to the way it was before around 1900.

The officials were in the northeastern corner of the forest, about 45 miles north of Russellville.

"This is an environmentally important area that has had a number of pressures over the years, since the turn of the century (1900), including logging and wildfire suppression," National Forest Foundation President Bill Possiel said. "We want to return the region to a state that would be more natural, the pre-logging area of about 100 years ago."

Possiel said efforts to extinguish wildfires affected the eco-system.

"Since the World War II era, we've seen significant shifts in wildfire suppression," he said. "Basically, whenever there's a fire since that World War II period, it's been the policy of the forest service to put out that fire. A certain level of fires, particularly low-intensity burns, are beneficial."

The goal of the project, called Treasured Landscapes, includes clearing thick brush and setting controlled fires to open the thickly wooded area and provide a habitat for wildlife and other species for generations to come, U.S. Forest Services spokeswoman Tracy Farley said.

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