U.S. Forest Service Seeks Public Input On Another Four Forest Restoration Initiative

By Laurel Morales
Published: Monday, October 21, 2019 - 4:15pm
Updated: Tuesday, October 22, 2019 - 9:23am

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ponderosa pine forests
Brady Smith/U.S. Forest Service
Ponderosa pine forest in northern Arizona.

The public has a 90-day window to weigh in on 4FRI, the largest forest restoration project in the U.S. The Four Forest Restoration Initiative spans over 1 million acres of ponderosa pine forest in northern Arizona.

The Forest Service has invited people to comment on three options. The first would thin 890,000 acres of trees and burn another 950,000 acres in portions of the Coconino, Tonto and Apache-Sitgreaves national forests. The second alternative would treat about half the number of trees. The third option would be to do nothing.

The first two plans would also restore streams, wetlands and riparian habitats.

The head of the project said they used the comments three years ago about air quality and roads to inform this plan.

The public input this time around will help improve the environmental impact statement. Open houses will be held in November and December in Payson, Heber-Overgaard and Flagstaff.

The idea behind the Four Forest Restoration Initiative is to prevent forest fires and create jobs through the forest industry, while restoring a natural fire regime in four national forests in Arizona. It's a project that has stalled out several times with different partners.

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