Ted Dergousoff and I sat down together in Arizona and had a conversation about his company, NewLife, forest restoration efforts, and the role they play in the 4FRI Initiative with the U.S. Forest Service. "We think that with an effective forest reforestation program working in concert with the US Forest Service and the 4FRI group, we've got an effective plan as to be able to maximize the value to all the stakeholders." The overall goals of the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) are to restore the structure, pattern, composition, and health of fire-adapted ponderosa pine ecosystems, reduce fuels and the risk of unnaturally severe wildfires, and provide for wildlife and plant diversity in four national forests - the Kaibab, Coconino, Apache-Sitgreaves, and Tonto. Read more here: https://4fri.org/
The NewLife website is here: https://www.nlfpaz.com/
NewLife is the largest vertically integrated forest products business in the Southwest region with next-generation manufacturing facilities currently producing value-added wood products. NewLife works closely with an ecosystem of local industry partners including mechanical thinning crews and smaller forest products manufacturing facilities.
NewLife has developed a manufacturing system to extract value from the low-quality fiber removed from the forest as part of its restoration initiatives. The expansion program will dramatically increase the total industry processing capacity within the Four Forests Restoration Initiative (4FRI) operating area, enabling large-scale forest restoration efforts across Arizona. The company will restore 25,000 acres of forestland per year, dramatically expanding the capacity to proactively address the rising concerns of wildfire.
Through its subsidiary, NewLife is contracted by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) as part of the 4FRI. The landscape scale restoration project was designed to combat the impact of climate change and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire by restoring the forests to a more natural state while protecting large healthy trees, wildlife and the watershed. Wildfires have devastated the western forests, endangering local towns, causing severe damage and unleashing huge quantities of greenhouse gases.
NewLife has managed Phase 1 of the 4FRI contract, the nation’s largest forest stewardship contract, since 2017 and partners with the USFS on mechanical thinning initiatives throughout Arizona, with plans to expand to neighboring states.
The company will use the proceeds of the bond to complete the build-out of its 425,000-square-foot industrial facility in Bellemont, Ariz., which will include a new high-speed sawmill, planer mill, and dry kilns. NewLife will also double the capacity of its Engineered Wood Products (EWP) plant and significantly expand the capacity of NewLife’s Lumberjack sawmill located near Heber, Arizona.
Production from the new sawmill will commence in the next six months and scale to full capacity in 2023, in a multi-phase roll-out that will create hundreds of new jobs with opportunities in the sawmill, remanufacturing facilities, forest operations, and hauling operations.