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C. Mechanical Thinning of Urban Forests: A Barrier Against Wildfire

Narrator:This is Science Today. As the recent wildfires in the West proved, heavy brush and small trees surrounding homes can make a catastrophic combination. Forestry scientists are proposing that removing some of the forestland debris may save many homes. University of California Area Natural Resources advisor, Michael de Lasaux, says they've tested small equipment that can remove small trees and debris and create a defensible space near a home.

De Lasaux:The advantages of this equipment is that they're a small tractor that has the ability to accommodate various pieces of equipment. It's very small, only six feet wide, so it can negotiate in and amongst trees fairly readily without causing damage, but also around the homes without causing too much concern by the homeowner.

Narrator:Attachments on this tractor include a small mower, a cutter and a processor.

De Lasaux: After we've cut and processed the tree into logs, we bring in a grapple, the grapple has the ability to grab onto all these small logs and then carry them to a place where we'll concentrate them and determine what next to do with them.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.