With a major environmental analysis completed and summer weather on the horizon, the time is ripe for thinning to gear up on the largest forest restoration project in the country. In the coming year, the Forest Service is set to open up more than 41,000 acres for thinning and biomass removal across the 3.2 million-acre Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI).
But a recent letter sent by one of the region’s prominent logging companies, as well as comments from several of the area’s longtime loggers and wood processors indicate that in the eyes of many, 4FRI, as well as the company holding the largest contract on the project, are still falling short.
Steve Reidhead, the president of Tri-Star Logging, signed the letter dated May 6 that was sent to county supervisors, state and federal legislators as well as Forest Service officials. The letter called out a newsletter announcement by Good Earth Power AZ, the company that holds the largest forest stewardship contract under 4FRI, that it plans to start its own trucking company due to a shortage of trucks and hauling equipment in the area.
Trucking is readily available in the area, the letter said, but Good Earth Power AZ “is not paying trucking companies what they are owed, as a result the companies will not work with them.” At the time it was written, the letter alleged that Good Earth Power AZ owed 10 trucking companies a total of $456,749 for work done hauling timber and forest slash. Good Earth Power AZ, through a PR agency hired by the company, said it will not comment on the letter.
However, four of the companies listed in the letter, including Tri-Star, said in recent interviews that Good Earth has paid at least part of the sum they were owed and at least two are continuing to work for Good Earth.