Forest Service and Arizona Nature Conservancy Partner for Future Forests - A New Approach to Reducing Risk
The Four Forest plan — or 4FRI — was intended to thin 1 million acres over 20 years within a 2.4 million-acre expanse stretching roughly from the Grand Canyon to New Mexico along the Mogollon Rim.
In Arizona, the Four Forests Restoration Initiative (4FRI) was, and still is, a shining example of the Cohesive Strategy in action. Collaborative stakeholder agreements led to NEPA success and an ambitious plan to thin one million acres over 20 years across the Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Kaibab, and Tonto National Forests. A variety of issues however, have plagued and severely stalled the implementation of the project.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the US Forest Service have launched a program called Future Forest to search for ways of thinning forests faster and more profitably.
The program represents a new approach to an old problem. TNC will invest in the program and work with the Forest Service to thin thousands more acres each year. Increasing efficiency is part of the goal, even it means rewriting thinning and clearing contracts between the Forest Service and loggers.
The Future Forest program will explore why the original 4FRI contractor has struggled under its contract and look for ways to draft future contracts differently.
Their plan includes contracting with Campbell Global to thin 20,000 acres of forest in four years using an approach that leaves antiquated processes behind and focuses on what the public values now - a restored acre rather than an individual tree.
The Future Forest program could increase efficiency by leaving timber on the forest floor for longer to dry it out and lighten truckloads, or by using tablet software to mark trees that loggers shouldn't cut. Patrick Graham, Director of the Arizona Nature Conservancy said he wants to see acres of thinning increase to over 50,000 per year.
The Cohesive Strategy is supportive of efforts to identify issues and find collaborative solutions that increase the pace and scale of restoring forests and landscapes.
To read more about the troubled 4FRI project and this new approach, click here.