First Four Forest Restoration Initiative project likely to begin in June

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Almost one year ago, the Forest Service awarded Pioneer Forest Products with the first stewardship contract under the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI). The Forest Service anticipates that work issued under the Ranch Task Order, which was released in late April, will begin in early June.

This initial task order will provide treatment on approximately 1,000 acres on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests near Show Low, Ariz. The work consists of removal of trees more than one inch in diameter and the residue (tops and limbs) in order to meet the desired conditions for the area.

Because of current market conditions, Pioneer Forest Products may complete the work with multiple entries over 18 months, rather than completing all the work with one entry into the area. The Forest Service is working closely with Pioneer to make sure their operations meet the agency's needs in the long run. In addition to the removal of wood, the contractor will complete road maintenance and erosion control activities.

As operations begin in the woods, visitors to the area and residents need to be aware of the hazards associated with the logging operation. Once operations begin in June, the Forest Service will give notice of safety conditions and specific road locations.

This is the beginning of restoration work that will treat an average of 30,000 acres per year on the Coconino, Kaibab, Apache-Sitgreaves and Tonto National Forests over the next nine years and is an important step for the 4FRI - a 20-year plan to restore 2.4 million acres of ponderosa pine forest in northern Arizona.

The Forest Service awarded a 10-year stewardship contract to Pioneer in May 2012. This contract provides for treatment of 300,000 acres over 10 years and is the largest stewardship contract awarded by the agency.

For additional 4FRI information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/4fri.

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