Set along Interstate 40, one hundred miles north of the pine forest of
the Mogollon Rim, Holbrook, Arizona is an unlikely place to locate the
communications center of the Arizona Sustainable Forests Partnership (ASFP).
However, this is the headquarters of the Little Colorado Resource and
Conservation District (LC RC&D). For many years, the Little Colorado
RC&D has provided assistance to local communities towards building
sustainable forest products economies. A principle example of this was
the “Small Diameter Action Team,” of the LC RC&D, which
arranged a study by Richard Mirth from the Engineering School at NAU in
the mid 1990’s. The study showed that a “phenomenal amount
of material” needed to come off of the forest, specifically that
that over a 30-year period, more wood needed to be removed than was cut
when the pulp mill was operating at Snowflake (personal conversation with
Bill Greenwood, Town Manager, Eagar, Arizona).
This began a dialogue, which led to a process of organizational development
that has produced a high level of collaboration among a wide range of
businesses, local governments, federal land managers, and state agencies,
including the Arizona governor’s office. After approximately 10
years of study and networking, the ASFP has evolved into a multi-faceted
community forestry organization. It is an excellent example of a sub-regional,
or state-level, coalition. Within a radius of 100-125 miles in northeastern
Arizona, there is a concentration of human, community, and natural resources
that facilitates the creation of an active collation of community forestry
From its objectives listed below, one can gain a perspective
about the strategic and integrated orientation of the ASFP.
• Respond to changes in forest products industry in Arizona,
addressing forest restoration activities decreasing the risk of
catastrophic wildfire and offering solutions for the promotion
of small-diameter timber harvesting and subsequent products.
• Assist individuals and businesses, that previously relied
upon large industry, to identify products and markets that utilize
existing machinery, equipment and human capital in order to increase
• Transition existing forest products industry leaders toward
vertically integrated, ecologically sustainable forest management
and industry relationship.
• Evaluate the feasibility of revitalizing closed sawmill
facilities for the purpose of developing an innovative forest
products industry, supported by a procurement cooperative, and
a resource sorting facility and development center.
• Enable communities to enhance “capacity building”
strategies that encourage diversification of the existing economic
base, providing sustainable solutions to employment and environmental
Another indication of the strategic perspective taken by the ASFP
is the Arizona Industries of the Future (draft) proposal recently
formulated, which includes the following key objectives:
• Create an advocacy group that promotes the Arizona forest
and forest products industry, while concurrently communicating
to the public on issues such as forest ecosystem health and the
merits of purchasing Arizona wood products.
• Create government and financial incentives for private
businesses to expand current sustainable forest and wood products,
and develop emerging technologies in the forest products industry.
• Assist forest practitioners, wood processors and manufacturers
to purchase equipment, expand production and conduct manufacturing
assessments, all designed to build long-term sustainment into
• Create a research and development program to develop and
test improved manufacturing processes and equipment to produce
cost-effective, value-added goods from forest restoration materials.
The ASFP is one of the best examples of a state-level, or sub-regional,
coalition to improve opportunities in restoration forestry, because
of its multi-faceted and broad membership approach. It includes
a diversity of partners from state government, to local counties,
small wood products businesses, university cooperative extension,
and a Small Business Development Center at Northland Pioneer College.
It has the benefit of a strong working relationship with a national
forest, the Apache-Sitgreaves based in Springerville, Arizona. Within
a radius of about 100 miles, there are small and large saw mills
(Reidhead and the Fort Apache Tribal Mill) and a variety of wood
products enterprises, (Universal Laminators, Forest Energy Corporation,
Mountaintop Wood Products, and an association with Arizona Public
Service to produce energy from biomass waste materials), all of
whom produce an integrated stream of products such as laminated
beams, cabinetry, house logs, traditional saw timber, and wood stove
pellets (see additional information about wood products under the
utilization and marketing section of Part II below).
Key to the success of the ASFP is the dynamics and networking that
have been created by a critical mass of partners working together
at an appropriate geographic scale. While the partnerships interacts
with other organizations and agencies from the Arizona governor’s
office to the Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership, the Prescott
Area Wildland Urban Interface Commission, and the Natural Resources
Working Group (active in the Blue Ridge Demonstration Project near
Pinetop), it is able to prioritize its attention on building a social
and economic infrastructure for community-based restoration forestry
in northeastern Arizona.
Part of the momentum of the ASFP can be attributed to the recent
development of a long-term stewardship contract, entitled the White
Mountain Stewardship Project (see Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
website). This contract has just recently been awarded to two businesses,
Rob Davis of Forest Energy in Show low, and the Walker Bros. in
Eagar, Arizona. Together they have formed a limited liability corporation,
Forest Futures. Along with some hazard tree salvage work resulting
from the Rodeo-Chediski Fire in 2002, the new long-term stewardship
promises to bring much needed sustained access to raw materials
in this region.