Arizona wildfire burns through collaborative process

Posted: Jun 8, 2011

Written by

The Arizona Republic

When the tragedies surrounding the enormous Wallow Fire are counted - they will be myriad - one in particular will rise up near the top of the list: That, given perhaps a few more years, is the fact that the vast destruction might have been averted.

In April 2009, a coalition of environmental groups, government agencies and private businesses finally agreed to a plan to thin the state's growth-choked forests on a massive scale.

The plan called for thinning as much as 50,000 acres a year over the next 20 to 30 years, with various private industries using the harvested forest product to mitigate the estimated $1 billion cost. Known as the Four Forests Restoration Initiative, the plan would thin over 1 million acres in four of Arizona's forested regions. Environmental-impact studies of the sweeping remediation plan were to have started this year. The gears were beginning to turn. Just not fast enough.

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