Arizona Project Moves Forward
Good Earth Power and Campbell Global (formerly The Campbell Group) officials are implementing the first phase of the ambitious 4 Forests Restoration Initiative (4FRI) across four national forests in Arizona after the original holder of the 4FRI Phase 1 contract couldn’t obtain financing. The unprecedented initiative covers thinning and ecosystem improvement activities on 300,000 acres during the next 10 years (Phase 1), with an overall goal to treat 2.4 million acres in the region.
Pioneer Resources of Montana was awarded the Phase 1 contract by the Forest Service (FS) in May 2012 but couldn’t obtain financing for its business plan, which included a sawmill, fingerjoint plant, furniture component plant and biofuels refinery to process logs and fiber coming off tracts specified in “task orders” generated by the FS and given to the contract holder. The contract was transferred to Oman-based Good Earth Power (GEP) in fall 2013, and in December GEP announced Campbell Global had been hired to manage the woods activities and contractors performing thinning and understory removal.
The big issue in implementing the 4FRI strategy is the lack of forest industry infrastructure in the state. Much of the state’s milling and conversion capacity had closed or downsized after the FS greatly reduced timber sales in the ’80s and ’90s due to old-growth timber and Mexican spotted owl issues. Pioneer had planned to build its facilities in Winslow, Ariz., but Good Earth officials have already received approval from the Forest Service to locate facilities in Williams, which is closer to the initial 4FRI task order project areas in the western part of the state. Most of the initial projects are in the Kaibab and Cococino national forests near Williams.
Officials with Good Earth have yet to announce the actual facilities planned for Williams and would need approval from the Forest Service to significantly alter terms of the original contract. At the press conference announcing the new contract holder last fall, Good Earth Power Global CEO Jason Rosamond said the company would follow the initial wood products facilities plan, but was also exploring wood fuel pellet production and biofuels as well.
Currently, Good Earth is concentrating on efficiently handling log and fiber production from the task order projects and developing a plan for the Williams site. The furniture plant is not being actively pursued at this time.