Good news on the forest front: NewLife Forest Products has acquired the former SCA Tissue facility in Bellemont, allowing it to scale up operations as the largest contractor in the Four Forest Restoration Initiative, or 4FRI.
The move into the 425,000-square-foot warehouse will allow the company to hire 200 local workers and move forward with its charge to thin roughly 300,000 acres of forest land over the next several years.
The company, formerly known as Good Earth Power LLC, had previously held a ground-breaking last year for a sawmill in Williams, but issues with the site would have prevented the company from creating a large scale mill at that location, company officials said.
The Bellemont facility will be home to three different operations. The two larger sections of the plant will house the sawmill and a kiln, while a third section will be for engineered wood products.
The location of the mill helps with the expense of processing the wood, in part because its location is in the heart of NewLife’s thinning operations. But access to the BNSF railroad spur near the plant means being able to easily ship products on the railroad line.
Company officials say that the plant should be up and running by next spring and that when it is fully operational, it will be able to produce more than 160 million board feet per year. (A board foot is a plank that is one foot long, one foot wide and one inch thick).
The new plant does not solve all the challenges that face NewLife Forest Products, such as the limited market for things like wood chips. However, it looks like this new plant may be key in diversifying NewLife’s product line so it can both fulfill its 4FRI contract and make a profit from the products it creates from northern Arizona lumber. We are grateful to NewLife Forest Products for continuing to invest in northern Arizona.