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4/9/2013 11:09:00 AM
4FRI environmental analysis available for public comment
Draft statement proposes habitat enhancement, forest thinning and prescribed burning on one million acres of Kaibab and Coconino Forests
The Ecological Restoration Institute completed forest restoration work at the Pearson Natural Area on the Fort Valley Experimental Forest in the early 1990s. Photo/Kaibab National Forest
The Ecological Restoration Institute completed forest restoration work at the Pearson Natural Area on the Fort Valley Experimental Forest in the early 1990s. Photo/Kaibab National Forest

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter

The U.S. Forest Service has published an environmental analysis for the first phase of the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) project, and is now seeking public comment about the document.

The draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) published March 29 proposes habitat enhancement, thinning and prescribed burning on one million acres of the Kaibab and Coconino national forests in the next 20 years. The DEIS will now undergo a 60-day public comment period.

The 4FRI project is the largest forest restoration project in the country, spanning 2.4 million acres within the Kaibab, Coconino, Tonto and Apache-Sitgreaves national forests. The project proposes restoration for 189,255 acres surrounding Williams.

"What we're trying to do is restore the structure and pattern of trees that we have across the landscape to a more natural state. Hopefully, fire can kind of play its natural role and then our forests will be much more resilient in the face of climate change and all the factors that contribute to it," said Henry Provencio, 4FRI team leader.

Diane Vosick, director of policy and partnerships for the Ecological Restoration Institute and 4FRI co-chair, called the unprecedented size of the 4FRI project a breakthrough in ecological restoration.

"The scale of our fires now are on the magnitude of a half million acres," she said. "So it's really important in order to be smart about treating these acres, we need to take a big look at the landscape and be analyzing the landscape at the scale of the problem."

Provencio agreed, saying that the 4FRI project allows the four forests to pool resources to deal with issues that all four forests face.

"Fires don't know those boundaries, that doesn't mean anything to a fire or to, say an elk in the woods, so it's important that we're looking at this from a landscape perspective," he said.

Preparations for the project, including marking trees and grading roads, have already started. Project organizers hope to start restoring 15,000 acres of forest this year.

"The forest is going to look quite different, it's going to be much more open," Provencio said.

In May 2012, the Forest Service signed the largest stewardship contract in its history. Under the contract, Pioneer Forest Products will thin 300,000 acres in the next 10 years. The forest service will receive about $22 per acre, exchanging the value of the trees for the work.

According to research from Northern Arizona University and economic specialists with the project, 4FRI could generate as many as 1,600 jobs.

The Williams Ranger District is working on a separate project that will use thinning and prescribed burning to restore Bill Williams Mountain. That work is expected to begin in 2014.

Martie Schramm, district ranger for the Williams District, said the 4FRI DEIS will be helpful for other restoration projects in the future.

"Instead of our local unit having to do several environmental documents to be able to go out and treat the land, we're getting it all covered under this one document," she said.

The public is invited to ask questions and give comments about the 4FRI DEIS at the following open houses:

• April 16 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Williams Ranger District, 742 S. Clover Road.

• April 20 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Tusayan Town Hall, 845 Mustang Drive, Grand Canyon Airport.

The DEIS is available online at

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, April 26, 2013
Article comment by: Fred Thompson

Well, "on looker," that has to be the strangest comment I've ever read in the paper. How about reading my post and trying to stay on topic by answering my questions or actually commenting on my comments? It's hard to reply to this...

Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Article comment by: Ron Pauly

Funny i wasnt sure anyone could actually go in the forest anymore?
Im against starting forest fires on purpose,it usually goes bad.

Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Article comment by: Worried And concerned

On looker
Huh? Maybe if PT doesn't make the decisions, what good is his job? Don't need to kill anything, Safeway has what I need. Get involved citizen "on looker". It's people like you that politicians love. I don't care how many years PT has been here, his employees need to get a lesson in wind direction and velocity before they burn the town down again. He should hire educated people, if he does do the hiring, from NAU and or Arizona State from the forestry division. Bob Blasi is no better.

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Article comment by: On Looker

Poor Fred and Molly, you guys should hook up and that way you can ponder on how to make the world better. LOL, funny that Molly aint from here or she would know that pt has spent his whole life here. typical out of towners. Fred, do you really think that all these decisions are made from here, study up it rolls down hill, it comes from alot higher up then is little hoe dunk office. Go kill a chicken if u need to feel that justice was done, to make u feel better.

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013
Article comment by: Fred Thompson

PT, you're really not helping your case with your comments. Bill Williams gets it. Let me restate. the paper told us that no one was disciplined. Getting a verbal scolding doesn't count. That's called counseling and it doesn't mean much. Disciplined is getting fined, suspended or terminated. Most of us who live here think that a "mistake" that cost the taxpayers millions and millions of dollars and almost cost us our town should result in discipline, not scolding. It's these types of actions along with the overzealous cutting and burning that makes us mistrust the Forest Service. It might just be better to leave the forest alone around our town. The FS seems to just make things worse and worry all of us - for good reason.

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013
Article comment by: Molly McKay

The forest service is a joke. We're not stupid P.T. Where did you go to school?

Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Article comment by: bill williams

They try to use pictures after the area was LOGGED to justify saying things like " most of the area was praire", 4 trees per acre, wow what a joke.

Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Article comment by: P.T. Carter

The Trainee is one of the most competent fire employees that I know, and again doesnt matter how good or great you are at something you will never master mother nature, look at your weather forecasts, and how often are they accurate. All I will say is he was reprimanded and we dont use yelling to do that. As far as your other worries, again I think you should check with the timber specialists or local libraries, much of this land was praire in the beginning. I think your asking for something that may not be there if your looking for pics before man kind moved in. One thing is for sure, if we dont manage the forest in one form or another, we will lose it all to fire, bark beetles, etc. Sorry if I didnt help answer any more of your questions.

Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Article comment by: Fred Thompson

P.T. This very paper told all of us a few years ago that NO ONE was disciplined as a result of the neglience involved in the starting of the Twin Fire that almost burned down Williams. If you mean getting yelled at, that's not what we're talking about. And, by the way, what the heck is a "trainee" doing making decisions about burns. This is the kind of incompetence from the Forest Service we are worried about. And, pictures from the early 1900s doesn't mean much. Williams was a town then and logging was rampant. To really know the state of the forest during "natural" times, one would have to go back before people and/or loggers lived in the area. Do we have any pictures from then??

Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2013
Article comment by: P.T. Carter

Fred, those are all great questions and while I worked for the kaibab for many years we had thinning units where the wood was left for the public and was quickly taken so this is already being done. They have numerous employees within the agency that work hard to bring the kaibab back to a safe and efficient forest with photos from the early 1900's and maybe earlier along with notes and other studies. As a life long resident I can tell you that we are very overgrown and thinning along with prescribed burns are required to keep our forests healthy. I was on the Twin fire when we lost it, and I can tell you that it is a horrilbe feeling for all that were there, and I can tell you that the burn boss trainee was disciplined, just because you dont hear about it doesnt mean nothing was done. No gurarantees can ever be given that a burn will not be lost again, just as no guarantee that no one will get in an accident while driving on I-40.."Murphys Law." Every employee from Marty Schramm District Ranger down to the seasonal is there to help achieve the same goal at the end of the day, a healthy, safe forest for the public to enjoy. I'm sure you could go in and ask to talk to someone from timber and they would explain to you the process they go through.

Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2013
Article comment by: Fred Thompson

Because of a surgery for a family member, I won't be able to attend the meetings but I would like to pose some questions for someone to ask to the Forest Service officials present:
1. Why can't the best cut wood be set aside for Williams residents to use to heat their homes? It's our forest so why shouldn't we get something back from its "exploitation."
2. Who is the ultimate authority in making the decision to cut trees in the Williams area? What can be done to change his/her mind? What precedence is there where the decision maker has changed their mind to reduce tree cutting and what was the reason presented by the community to force the change?
3. What is the "natural" state of the forest around Williams? How many trees per acre existed in 1850 compared to present day? What data is there for comparison purposes?
How many trees per acre will be cut under the current proposals?
4. Control burns are dangerous and almost burned down Williams a few years back. The accident report claimed an unexpected change in wind direction caused the disaster. Yet, no Forest Service employee was disciplined for their multi-million dollar mistakes. What guarantees do we have now that a "mistake" won't be made again when the control burns start up?

Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Article comment by: Keith Wilmot

This is what happens when guys like Blasi from the Forest Service have their way. Just leave OUR forest alone!

Posted: Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Article comment by: ugly to uglier

So the 2nd picture is what they want the forest to look like everywhere, and that is supposedly healthy. What a ugly picture it makes. Easy to see why it won't burn, there are only 4 live trees left!!!

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