NewLife Forest Restoration Holds Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for its new Bellemont Arizona Sawmill Facility

NewLife Forest Restoration, on Friday (4-23-21) held a ribbon cutting ceremony at its new 425,000 square foot sawmill facility in Bellemont Arizona. NewLife currently holds the largest contract with the United States Forest Service for logging operations associated with the Four Forest Restoration Initiative, also called 4FRI. As officials watched, two workers loaded small planks of wood, some less than 12” long onto a conveyor belt and into a finger jointing machine which after a few seconds was able to produce one large plank of lumber. The technology used to create it isn’t revolutionary. But the impact of it might get close. For years, forest restoration efforts in northern Arizona have faced several challenges, including the lack of a sawmill and the difficulty making money from the low-quality wood produced by restoration efforts. NewLife Forest Restoration CEO Ted Dergousoff said of the process, “By its very nature, the trees that we extract are not the best trees in the forest. Of course, you want to leave behind the healthiest, largest, oldest trees to continue to shape the forest after it’s been restored.” The initiative hopes to treat 2.4 million acres on the Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Kaibab and Tonto national forests, lowering the risk of catastrophic wildfires and creating a healthier ecosystem. With only a handful of machines on site, the vast majority of the facility remains empty. However, Dergousoff said over the course of the next year, that should change. By next year, the floor should be full of machinery and could be operating at full capacity. At that time, Dergousoff said they will then look to build a new section of railroad from the facility to the BNSF railway line. Once fully staffed, the facility is expected to employ about 200 people and will house the sawmill, planer mill, kilns for drying the wood and engineered wood product lines, with space allowing for storage and movement of high-value products. When completely operation company officials say they will produce an estimated 120 million board feet per year of lumber.

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Original Source:
As new Bellemont sawmill opens Friday, leaders optimistic for forest restoration future