Washington, DC – During today’s Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) secured a commitment from U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell to work with local entities in Arizona on advancing the implementation of the current Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) efforts to expedite wildfire mitigation plans.
A concern that Flake brought up during the hearing was how the $10 million increase for 4FRI in the southwest region, including Arizona, will be spent and if the proposals brought forward by the Eastern Arizona Counties Organization (ECO) would be considered. Tidwell expressed that part of the funds will be used on the local suggestions to improve 4FRI efforts in the White Mountains along with other long-term stewardship contracts.
Flake also thanked the Forest Service for recent commitments to speed up the pace of restoration in Arizona, including: filling a new 4FRI chief executive position, dedicating additional funds toward 4FRI, and rebalancing restoration acres toward existing industry partners.
Video of Flake and Tidwell’s exchange can be viewed here.
Background: On Nov. 6, 2015, Flake and U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) sent a letter to Tidwell urging the Forest Service to increase the pace of forest thinning efforts and ensure that adequate treatment of forests is occurring within the 4FRI Phase One stewardship contract and beyond. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey simultaneously sent an identical letter to the Forest Service. Flake and McCain’s signed letter can be viewed here.