Letting forest fires burn, or even intentionally setting them, has often been considered good forest management. But that policy has become problematic as more and more people build homes in forested areas.

Now, some innovators have come up with a new way to clear and renew America's woodlands.

A massive tree-eating machine called the feller buncher is used to thin out trees on the Trinchera Blanca Ranch in Colorado, CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen reports. The goal is creating a sustainable forest.

A sustainable forest is more fire resilient, said Ty Ryland, who grew up on the ranch and has managed it for almost three decades.

"A forest fire isn't always bad, as long as it's a cool burning fire. You know, we do some prescribed burning, and we'll do more prescribed burning in the future," he said. "But when we get these big, devastating crown fires that we've seen from California all the way through the West into Colorado, those are extremely devastating. And we're trying to prevent ... those big, catastrophic fires."

There are heroic efforts to put out the fires before they destroy the growing number of houses built in forested areas, but that undercuts nature's way of burning off undergrowth. And that is making forests dangerously dense.