Fire is a natural process, but Arizona’s forests are not in a natural state. Years of fire suppression and drought have ushered in the era of the mega-fire, as the Southwest experienced recently with the Wallow and Monument fires.
Arizona’s forests need help now. The Four Forest Restoration Initiative, modeled after the White Mountains project, will thin 300,000 acres of trees in the next decade, and nearly 1 million acres in all. It’s the largest forest restoration project in the nation and involves many public and private partners, including the Conservancy.
The Conservancy and its partners in the effort are working to employ long-term forest harvesting contracts, which would allow time to develop local markets for the wood products and provide economic benefits to local communities. The effort will also strive to reduce Forest Service costs of flagging trees for cutting, and instead, train wood harvesters to make those decisions – using approaches that don’t harm sensitive habitats like streams and wildlife corridors.
The Nature Conservancy and its partners are creating innovative uses of technologies to more efficiently harvest trees.