The National Forest Service is conducting prescribed burns in western Colorado and as strange as it may seem to some, they're doing it in the middle of winter.

You could guess that maybe this is just a tactic to have a big winter bonfire to roast some hot dogs, marshmallows and keep forest service employees warm.

Actually, the burns are necessary to burn off about 100 piles of slash and vegetation from project work in the Ouray Ranger District on the Uncompahgre Plateau. The piles encompass approximately 50 acres of national forest land.

More commonly known as slash-and-burn, this is a method of clearing land by cutting down trees and other vegetation, burning it and then using the open space created as a way of cultivating desirable vegetation.

More prescribed burning is taking place at the Amphitheater Campground near Ouray.

Burning now makes it ideal for getting new vegetation to sprout up this spring.

The Forest Service obtained permits from the State of Colorado for the prescribed burns which are scheduled to be completed by January 27, weather conditions permitting.