Oct 022013

By Nick Worth
The U.S. Forest Service announced Sept. 23 that five more task orders have been issued in the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI).
The task orders, totaling 8,571 acres were sent to the new 4FRI contractor, Good Earth Power AZ, LLC (GEP).
On Sept. 16, the Mercer task order for 952 acres on the Tonto National Forest was issued along with four more orders for acreage on the Coconino National Forest, including Elk Park, 2,901 acres; Weatherford, 1,017 acres; Bobs, 2,017 acres; and Clark, 1,684 acres.
Good Earth Power took over the 4FRI contract Sept. 13 after buying the assets of Pioneer Forest Products, which had held the 300,000-acre contract since May 2012. Although GEP bought the company’s assets, the 4FRI contract was not included in the sale. The Forest Service had to transfer the contract to GEP through a process, which involved review by Forest Service officials in Washington, D.C.
Immediately following a webinar on Sept. 13 in which the transfer of the 4FRI contract was announced, four task orders for 5,707 acres were issued to GEP. To date, the Forest Service has issued 15,219 acres of task orders across the Apache-Sitgreaves, Tonto, Coconino and Kaibab national forests. Thinning began on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, with approximately 600 acres completed so far.
The original contract called for the thinning of 30,000 acres per year, but because Pioneer Forest Products had trouble securing much-needed financing, there was a delay in starting the work. The delays have put the 4FRI thinning behind schedule.
As a result, the Forest Service announced during the webinar that approximately 15,000 acres would be treated this year, increasing to around 25,000 in 2014 and reaching the 30,000-acre mark in 2015.