By Nick Worth
The Campbell Group, the company hired by Good Earth Power to manage the 4FRI (Four Forest Restoration Initiative) contract in Arizona, addressed 4FRI stakeholders last week at a meeting held at the Twin Arrows Casino east of Flagstaff.
Jason Rosamond, CEO of Good Earth Power, spoke very briefly of the Lanza Tech company, which is making biofuels in a plant in Georgia, and said of Good Earth Power’s planned biofuels plant in Arizona, “We think it will be transformational.”
Rosamond then introduced Steve Levesque, director of operations for the Campbell Group (TCG), who gave the assembly an overview of TCG, its history and experience.
Levesque also introduced Stephen Horner, who has been chosen by TCG as the Flagstaff area manager.
TCG was founded in 1981 and has $6.1 billion in timberlands under management on more than 3.2 million acres. Levesque said the company employs a 300-person staff in 14 states and two countries, the United States and South Australia.
He also outlined the company’s abilities in resource and infrastructure logistics planning, watershed restoration, and in-house monitoring and research capabilities for endangered species, geotechnical, archeological and botanical surveys.
Levesque also gave an update on TCG’s progress on the Arizona 4FRI contract, telling the audience of several “near term objectives” which have been completed or are in the works.
“The restoration agreement is in place with Good Earth Power,” said Levesque. “We have also met with U.S. Forest Service representatives and local officials.”
He said TCG has completed its field reconnaissance and assessment of both the Mercer and Alder task orders.
The company has also moved into permanent digs.
“We signed a lease on an office in Flagstaff,” Levesque said. “Stephen (Horner) is the designated contact.”
Levesque then told the stakeholders TCG started operations on the Mercer task order on the Tonto National Forest Dec. 6. The Mercer task order is for 952 acres and also contains timing restrictions for wildlife issues.
“The operation has been contracted to Forest Restoration Management,” Levesque said. He then assured local contractors that TCG would be using several logging contractors to do the prescribed thinning operations.
“We want to grow the capacity here,” Levesque said. “We’ll spread it around and we’ll use many operators.”
Levesque then outlined the company’s next steps, saying the first task is to complete the field reconnaissance and further engage local contractors.
He said another step is to tailor TCG’s log accounting system to coordinate with Forest Service reporting requirements.
“We’ll continue building relationships with local contractors and especially with local vendors,” Levesque said. He noted the company would be buying a lot of items, from pickup trucks to cans of tree-marking paint, locally.
TCG is also recruiting professional staff for the local office. Ads have been placed seeking a forester, a contract supervisor and an office administrator.
In the meantime, TCG will continue to monitor the active operations on the Mercer task order and prepare to open the remaining 2013 task orders this spring. Levesque said Rosamond set the date of March 22, the first day of spring, as the target date.
Coconino County District IV Supervisor Mandy Metzger, asked Levesque what experience TCG has working on stewardship projects, as opposed to managing timberlands for wood harvesting.
“Zero,” Levesque answered. “We have engaged in projects akin to stewardship projects, some on federal lands.”
Jerry Drury, natural resources officer with the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, asked Rosamond, “Can you speculate when new markets will open in Arizona?”
Rosamond said Good Earth Power is in talks with several companies and the results will be announced at the end of January.
“I thought we were going to hear a report of where the wood will go,” said Navajo County District IV Supervisor David Tenney. He asked Rosamond where the wood and slash would be sent.
“The Mercer products will go to Heber,” Rosamond said, speaking of the Heber Saw Mill. “There’s plenty of capacity in Heber to process the wood from Mercer.
“We already have agreements with others,” Rosamond said of the biomass processing. “Assuming the USFS approves it, I’ll announce it in January.”
In an interview with The Tribune-News, Tenney expressed confidence in TCG.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that Campbell can get it done,” Tenney said. “I’m anxiously awaiting the day when they announce where all the wood and slash will be processed.
“Where are they going to take it when they get up to the 15,000 acres point?” Tenney asked. “We’ve heard about building wood processing plants and biofuels plants.
“They’re sending the wood to the Heber Saw Mill and I’m assuming Novo Power will be taking the slash,” said Tenney. He added the Novo Power biomass boiler at the old Catalyst Paper Mill site is currently the only place accepting that type of biomass.
“I’m cautiously optimistic they can get it done, but they need to build the infrastructure to process 40,000 acres worth of wood and slash per year,” Tenney said. He said he arrived at that figure because the 4FRI project is so far behind.
“In the spring we’ll be two years into it and will have only 2,000 acres cut,” said Tenney. “May will be the two-year anniversary, so they’ll have to average over 40,000 acres per year to catch up.
“They’ll have to ramp up and build wood processing plants and biomass plants,” said Tenney. “They have to have places to process 40,000 acres of wood and slash.”
By Nick Worth