The Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) is made up of many different and diverse groups that came together to help restore Arizona’s forests and reduce the threat of wildfires. There has been lots of controversy and criticism over the years, mostly about the pace of restoration directed at both 4FRI and the Forest Service.

The latest issue is a letter sent by the 4FRI stakeholders group to the Forest Service expressing concern over cutting too many old growth trees in the West Escudilla project area in Apache County.

In a Nov. 14 story in the Arizona Daily Sun it was stated: “…the U.S. Forest Service made a decision out at the West Escudilla Project to cut down over 1,300 trees that were more than 150 years old, fearing an infestation of an invasive dwarf mistletoe. In response to the action, the 4FRI stakeholders released a letter, calling the treatment ‘inconsistent’ with their current practices.”

The Forest Service said it has allowed for the cutting of larger diameter trees (old growth) for parts of the West Escudilla Project to maintain a healthy forest and concerns over dwarf mistletoe infestation.

The stakeholders have asked the Forest Service to revisit their planned treatments to modify the trees they had marked for cutting. News reports indicate that a large number of old growth trees have already been cut.

Read more on this from the White Mountain Independent at