Forest Service Chief Announces Next Steps for 4FRI

Release Date: Nov 9, 2021

Contact(s): Adam Livermore


FLAGSTAFF, AZ – November 9, 2021—USDA Forest Service Chief Randy Moore today announced new funding and a redesigned strategy for the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) during a visit with elected officials in Arizona.

The agency will be committing $54 million dollars in fiscal year 2022 to accelerate the needs for implementing high-priority projects on 135,000 acres over the next 10 years. The funding will also address annual road and bridge maintenance.

“The Forest Service is increasing the scale of our investments into the 4FRI project, and we’re getting started sooner than previously planned,” said Chief Moore. “This strategy will focus our forest maintenance work to reduce wildfire danger in the 4FRI project area where wildfire is most likely to place homes, communities and infrastructure at risk. By placing our treatments in the right places and at the right scale, we will reduce wildfire risk, protect communities, and restore forests.”

The announcement today represents an important step toward the agency’s broader, national strategy to treat landscapes, protect communities and watersheds, and create fire resilient forests at the scale needed to address the nation’s growing wildfire crisis.

“We are committed to reducing the risk of destructive wildfire and protecting communities, and recognize the scale of the need for restoration,” added Chief Moore.  “Industry is vital to our success in this commitment, and we are fully committed to working with partners to achieve our restoration needs at scale.”

 

The key decisions from the 4FRI Restoration Strategy are:  

  • Immediately prioritize and expand the highest-priority, partnership projects to significantly reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire to communities on approximately 135,000 acres (i.e. Bill Williams Mountain, Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project, CC Cragin, Sierra/Anchas).
  • Immediately implement current plans which provide approximately 300,000 acres over 20 years to maintain existing industry.
  • Treat 86,000 acres using prescribed fire and non-commercial thinning (over 20 years) on the Tonto and Kaibab National Forests.
  • Conduct a rapid assessment and optimization effort using the best available science to assess approximately 300,000-350,000 acres (over 20 years) on the Coconino and Kaibab National Forests, with treatments assessed to prioritize which acres to treat to reduce the risk of wildfire the quickest beginning in FY2023.
  • Focus on resolving and improving conditions for industry success by addressing factors like cost and risk reduction, incentives, market conditions, availability of raw material, transportation plans, and fire liability risks.

The 4FRI Restoration Strategy provides detailed information on the restoration projects.

Background

The Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) is a landscape-level effort to restore 2.4 million acres of forests on the Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Kaibab, and Tonto National Forests in Northern Arizona over the next 20 years. The 4FRI footprint includes six out of 10 of the highest priority ‘firesheds’ in the Southwestern Region. It also includes nine of the 10 high-priority fire risk areas in Arizona. Watersheds on the four forests supply water uses including municipal, domestic, irrigation and industrial uses for millions of people in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

The vision and objectives of the 4FRI Restoration Strategy are in close alignment with a renewed agency emphasis on reducing wildfire danger for the fire-prone landscapes and communities throughout the West. 4FRI efforts also seek to expand local industry, increase jobs and support local economies. The initiative supported 1,400 jobs and $56.6M in income in FY2021.  

The new strategy was a collaborative effort between the Forest Service, its key partners and 4FRI stakeholders and is broadly supported by industry and local communities. 

For further input or media inquiries please contact SM.FS.SWpressoffice@usda.gov.