For Immediate Release, Friday, April 24, 2009
Ethan Aumack, Director of Restoration Programs, Grand Canyon Trust, (928) 606-2128, firstname.lastname@example.org
Pascal Berlioux, President and CEO, Arizona Forest Restoration Products, (928) 637-3037, email@example.com
Taylor McKinnon, Public Lands Program Director, Center for Biological Diversity, (928) 310-6713, firstname.lastname@example.org
Environmentalists and Industry Join Forces in Nation's Largest
Comprehensive Forest Restoration Effort;
Alliance Brings Both Conservation and Jobs to Northern Arizona
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.— Representatives of the Grand Canyon Trust, Arizona Forest Restoration Products, and Center for Biological Diversity today signed a landmark agreement committing mutual support to a plan to safely restore beneficial fires and conserve biological diversity in northern Arizona ponderosa pine forests, the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in the world.
Following a century of ecological decline and decades of litigation, the agreement, in the form of a memorandum of understanding between the parties, marks a sea change in southwestern forest politics, focusing industry and conservation groups on a common goal of conserving species and ecosystems in a rapidly warming climate.
“The scientific basis for moving forward with landscape-scale ecological restoration in northern Arizona’s pine forests is well established,” said Taylor McKinnon, public lands program director at the Center. “Today’s agreement is a commitment to the responsible and ambitious action that Arizona’s forests need. It’s the culmination of more than 15 years of hard work by the Center, Grand Canyon Trust, and other stakeholders to move beyond controversy and get on with the hard work of restoring these once-majestic forests.”
The memo describes an ecological basis and strategic framework for safely restoring beneficial fires and conserving biological diversity in northern Arizona’s degraded forests. It establishes clear parameters for proceeding with nearly 1 million acres of landscape-scale ecosystem restoration over 20 years.
Developed over years of forging consensus in the Arizona Governor’s Forest Health Council and its predecessors, and through subsequent modeling exercises that translated that agreement into increasingly detailed restoration strategies, the memo calls for a combination of community-protection activities and strategically placed restoration projects to facilitate restoration and re-establishment of natural fire regimes across entire landscapes.
“Today’s agreement offers leadership, capacity and momentum in the context of agreements already forged in Arizona. It sets forth an aggressive yet ecologically cautious path to healing our forests,” said Ethan Aumack, director of restoration programs at the Grand Canyon Trust. “It recognizes that forests need fire to be healthy and adapt to climate change, and it recognizes that the need to reduce small-tree densities can, and should, result in economic benefits for rural communities. Breaking gridlock now will have profound and positive impacts for forests, communities, and rural economies across the Mogollon Rim for decades to come.”
The new agreement supports the construction of an oriented-strand-board, or “OSB,” plant in Winslow, Arizona, by Arizona Forest Restoration Product. The plant, which has a lifespan of about 20 years, would use small-diameter trees resulting from about 30,000 acres of ecological restoration treatments per year across a 2.4 million-acre analysis area. Modeling analyses show that a limited amount of strategically placed treatments will be sufficient to safely restore fire across much broader areas. The facility will provide more than 600 jobs and inject up to $200 million annually into the regional economy.
“Memorializing the vast area of agreement with the environmental community is critical to the implementation of industry support,” said Pascal Berlioux of Arizona Forest Restoration Products. “It clarifies a set of sideboards for execution of the project, and it creates the conditions necessary for a secure investment. Our goal is to provide an economic engine to fund a restorative vision in northern Arizona, and to operate in a framework of collaboration, science, ecological sustainability, and economic viability and predictability. This is the reason why we have strongly supported, and will continue to support, all aspects of the collaborative consensus process, including the protection of old and large trees, as a strategic approach to enable landscape-scale restoration of natural fire regimes along the Mogollon Rim.”
The Grand Canyon Trust, Arizona Forest Restoration Products, and Center for Biological Diversity are actively involved in the Four Forests Restoration Initiative collaborative process of northern Arizona and are working with the U.S. Forest Service and other constituencies toward the accelerated implementation of landscape-scale forest restoration across the Mogollon Rim. The group is acting on mandates, and with guidance, offered through strong letters and resolutions of support by the state of Arizona, Congressional Rep. Kirkpatrick, seven northern Arizona counties, the Eastern Arizona Counties Organization, the County Supervisors’ Association of Arizona, and the Northern Arizona Council of Governments.
The Grand Canyon Trust is a regional, non-profit conservation organization that advocates collaborative, common sense solutions to the significant problems affecting the region’s natural resources. Our work is focused in the greater Grand Canyon region of northern Arizona, and in the forests and red rock country of central and southern Utah. www.grandcanyontrust.org
Arizona Forest Restoration Products Inc. is dedicated to providing an economic engine for ecological restoration in northern Arizona, and to operate in a framework of collaboration, science, ecological sustainability, and economic viability. www.azfrp.com
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 220,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. www.biologicaldiversity.org