U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) recently asked the U.S. Forest Service to let Arizona forestland become available to the state’s timber industry for the sake of reforestation and to prevent rampant wildfires.
McCain addressed his remarks to U.S. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell as part of an effort to free up woodlands to help reduce widespread and dangerous fires. He also stressed that the Eastern Arizona Counties Organization (EACO) wishes to take responsibility.
“My constituents … warn me that the timber industry in eastern Arizona is currently in survival mode and barely operating due to a lack of lands that are (National Environmental Policy Act) NEPA-approved for treatment,” McCain said. “It is imperative that the Forest Service effectively maintain the viability of this industrial base by ensuring a stable supply of forest treatment task orders … these projects should not remain on the shelf until the fourth quarter (of fiscal year 2016) as currently planned.”
McCain also thanked the Forest Service for supporting Arizona’s Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI), which has already treated approximately 50,000 acres in the state’s eastern portion and anticipates handling an additional 2.4 million acres of federal land. The Forest Service allocated $10 million to the 4FRI initiative earlier this year.