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4FRI - To Restore Forest & Watershed Health

Did you know that Arizona is home to the largest contiguous Ponderosa Pine forest in the world?  Did you also know that over 1,000,000 acres of this forest have already burned?

The 4FRI Collaboration partners and/or stakeholders have identified the following:


  1. ​1.8 million acres have been identified as appropriate for mechanical thinning across USFS lands in northern Arizona on four national forests.

  2. The 10‐year Phase 1 Contract was issued May 2012, as of August 2015 approximately 4,500 acres have been treated.

  3. Approximately 600,000 acres under USFS management have cleared the environmental approval process and are awaiting implementation.

  4. 300,000 acres are available to Phase 1 4FRI Contract if Contractor performance warrants. There are an additional 300,000 acres awaiting an offering by the USFS.

  5. An additional 1‐million acres of Ponderosa Pine forest in northern Arizona are currently being developed for environmental review that will include mechanical thinning. Current USFS statements regarding completion timeline range from 24‐ to 60‐months.

  6. Current processing capacity in northern Arizona is reportedly underutilized, but of insufficient capacity and diversity to adequately serve the planned fiber supply.

  7. The above information does not include Tribal, other Federal, State, local and private lands, which collectively are substantial and require much the same restoration treatments.

  8. Because the cost of restoration exceeds the ability of the Forest Service to fund, an economic engine must be designed to pay for restoration. This means value-added small diameter trees utilization must make restorative thinning become economically viable.

  9. Restoration must be implemented at the same scale catastrophic fires are taking place. This means landscape scale.

  10. Old growth and large trees must be protected and thinning must be focused on small diameter trees which are the majority of the 4FRI thinning inventory. This means restorative thinning must be ecologically sustainable.  This will also restore Arizona’s watersheds to a sustainable condition.

  11. The vision is to create an economic engine, that could fund the landscape scale restoration of northern Arizona's forests to a fire-adapted ecology by converting low-value small diameter trees harvested during ecological restorative thinning into high value engineered wood products.

The Environmental Issues Committee of NALA intends to sponsor a forum in the next few months for the discussion of the solutions needed to create this economic engine and enable an industry to begin planning as soon as possible.

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