Forest Thinning Project Could Start Up Again Soon

By Al Macias
Published: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 9:21am

A long-stalled forest restoration project in northern Arizona may finally start seeing some action early next year. The project is supposed to reduce wildfire risks across four forests in northern Arizona.

The Four Forest Restoration Initiative or 4FRI project was first announced in 2009. The plan called almost 2.5 million acres of forest to be thinned across four national forests over 20 years and the creation of hundreds of jobs.

Initially 300,000 acres were to be thinned in the first ten years. But the company that won the contract for the first phase failed to produce, barely clearing a thousand acres. It also failed to build a sawmill to process wood products.

Last month the Forest Service transferred the contract to Good Earth Power. The company announced that it has hired the Portland-based Campbell Group to clear out 15,000 acres as part of the first phase.

A spokesman for Good Earth says Campbell Group employees will be in Arizona this week to begin setting up operations, looking for office space and doing assessments.

The company says it hopes to begin thinning operations by the end of the first quarter of 2014. The Forest Service says the stewardship contract is the largest in the agency's history.