Nice Article on 4FRI

We’ll probably all be interested in following as 4FRI unfolds.

This is the most detailed story I’ve seen..nice work, Pete Aleshire!


he threat prompted timber interests and environmentalists together with forest researchers from Northern Arizona University to forge an agreement on the need to use a reinvented timber industry to thin some 2.4 million acres of forest. Instead of asking taxpayers to shell out $500 to $1,000 per acre for hand thinning, backers hope the timber mills can essentially cover the cost of the thinning by selling the small trees they harvest. That would require convincing the timber mills to invest millions in chipboard and particle board manufacturing operations plus a network of power plants that can burn the wood scraps.

A study by economists from NAU predicted that long-term contracts feeding wood steadily to a network of mills and power plants would generate about 1,000 jobs annually in the region and save the taxpayers the $1.2 billion cost of hand thinning such an expanse.

“If an effort of this scale is going to work anywhere, it’s going to work here,” said Ethan Aumack, Director of Restoration Programs for the Grand Canyon Trust.

“From the science to the social license to the wood utilization capacity, we have all the necessary pieces in place and now it’s time to move them in unison forward.”


The timber interests want 20- and 30-year contracts to guarantee a sufficient supply of wood to produce a profit. The conservationist groups want the Forest Service to accept what amounts to a ban on cutting the largest trees — generally those more than 16 inches in diameter.

2 thoughts on “Nice Article on 4FRI”

  1. Here’s a link to a widely quoted table comparing the 1910 “woolsey” inventory in the Southwest to Southwest Region inventorys done in 1962 & 1985.
    Here’s a link to a similar one on the Apache Sitgrieves Nat. Forest plan revision site. It includes the 1999 inventory:
    As you can see, the 1910 “forest density” was quite small. 20 some trees /acre. you may also notice that there are 4 times the average number of 16″ DBH trees/acre today than in 1910.

    The irony of this forest is that to really “follow the science” and restore the ecosystem you need to radically reduce it’s density. The shortage is not in “big trees”, it’s in early seral. We’ll see if the Center for biological diversity can handle the truth of the pre-settlement forest. One reason they “appealed” the Schultz project, which we all know burned this summer, was it objected to the low density and “clumpy appearance” of the USFS restoration treatment. They claim the Mexican spotted owl needs dense old growth. Of course some bright biologists observed that if the Mex. Owl existed in the extreme low density of pre-settlement forests, than high density must not play such a critical role as thought. Perhaps the CBD has changed their minds? we’re all entitled to that.

    The proposed OSB mill would cost anywhere from 200-300 Million dollars(the numbers I’ve seen tossed about off the top of my head). (Perhaps the CBD might want to buy the Frenchtown pulp mill that is soon to be scrapped in Missoula?) The mill proposes to harvest 260,000 ccf/year on 30,000 acres. In 1992, before the spotted owl, the five Nat. forests in Arizona harvested 365,000 ccf. In 2007 the forests produced 60,000 ccf. About 20% of pre-litigation harvest. A level some consider a “sustainable” USFS harvest level. The OSB harvest would be 70% of the old school pre-litigation “get-out-the-cut” harvest. 70%. Imagine the brouhaha if all the USFS could harvest 70% of the good ol days.

    In fairness, back in the good ol days, almost all the USFS harvests were “overstory” and “shelterwood seed” removals. The big trees. However, the Apache-sitgrieves was also doing 20,000 acres/year of pre-commercial thinning(according to the 85 plan). Most of that from the “pulp” mill at snowflake. One has to speculate if such an “abrupt” logging stoppage was wise? But then, no one will be writing about that in the history books.

  2. Oops. I forgot to say “go to page 23” of the Apache revision document to see the “inventory” table. Is this what they call an “errata”??


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