The U.S. Forest Service announced Friday the intention to transfer the contract for an unprecedented forest thinning project to a financially sound company. Good Earth Power Global said it can handle the investment but it typically works in Africa, not forests of the southwestern United States.
Good Earth Power CEO Jason Rosamond said on a media call today he has brought on people with forest experience in the southwest United States. In addition Good Earth Power will hire locally and work with local logging companies and build a mill in Winslow. Good Earth Power also plans to turn some of the biomass to biofuel, so it will be building a biofuel power plant in the region. It plans to give 50 percent of its profits back to community health care and education.
The Forest Service awarded Pioneer Forest Products the Four Forests Restoration Initiative (4FRI) contract last year but Pioneer couldn't come up with the money to build a mill to create laminate wood panels. So the project fell behind schedule, thinning only 1,000 of the 10,000 acres planned for this stage of 4FRI.
The idea 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 been years in the making. The stewardship contract that the federal government has called the largest in its history was expected to create 500 jobs.
Some environmentalists have been concerned about whether the loggers will cut down large-diameter trees. A 4FRI spokesman said on the call most of the trees being removed will be small diameter but some large-diameter trees will be cut down.