Good Earth Power AZ and its operating entity, NewLife Forest Products, Arizona’s leading forest products company, has acquired a large-scale industrial manufacturing facility located at 14005 West Old Highway 66 in Bellemont, Ariz. near Flagstaff to bolster the regional industry’s efforts to reduce the incidence of catastrophic wildfires.
The 425,000-square-foot facility will house a new high-production sawmill on a 35-acre property and plans to employ approximately 200 people from the local area including Flagstaff and Williams. The property was originally built in 1996 as a tissue paper manufacturing facility and owned by global manufacturer Essity AB. Operations of the Bellemont sawmill facility will begin in late March.
The new facility will produce 120 million board feet per year of lumber in addition to engineered wood products, substantially increasing the regional log processing capacity necessary to restore the health of 2.4 million acres of Arizona forest land in collaboration with the US Forest Service (USFS) under the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI).
The forests of Arizona are overgrown with upwards of 20 times more wood fiber per acre than normal. The resulting conditions have led to catastrophic wildfires in the state, including two devastating fires in recent years that each destroyed a half million acres. 4FRI is an initiative by which the USFS and local stakeholders seek to restore Arizona’s forest to a more healthy and natural state, thereby reducing wildfire risk. Good Earth Power AZ is managing the Phase 1 4FRI contract with the USFS.
“This is the most exciting and important project I have been involved with in my 40-year career in the forest products industry,” said NewLife Forest Products CEO Ted Dergousoff. Dergousoff joined NewLife in fall 2019 and has a track record of successfully building and operating large-scale mill infrastructure in Washington State and British Columbia, Canada. “This facility allows us to leapfrog in our scale as a company and as a vital local industry. We have invested millions of dollars to retool the existing plant which will allow us to work with our partners to process the mixed inventory of diameter trees and log sizes that the forest gives us. The Bellemont sawmill will play a key role for keeping Coconino County protected from a catastrophic wildfire event.”
The sawmill will run multiple lines for processing timber, capable of handling any size logs efficiently and will produce a wide range of products ranging from lumber to engineered wood products and bagged residuals. The new facility will also allow NewLife to process profitably smaller fiber and ramp up to forest thinning and harvesting 30,000 acres per year.
“This facility helps Good Earth Power AZ to deliver on its vision for a sustainable model for forest management, without government subsidy,” said Jason Rosamond, Chairman and Founder of NewLife Forest Products. “We look forward to creating jobs through this incredible new facility that will breathe life into the Arizona forest products industry.”
The Bellemont facility will house the sawmill, planer mill, kilns and engineered wood product lines with space allowing for storage and movement of high-value products. Good Earth Power AZ will build a rail spur, allowing the high-value products to be distributed cost effectively throughout North America and the world.
Good Earth Power AZ has formed a consortium of local partners across Arizona to help build out the regional forest products industry. This consortium includes TriStar Logging and Novo Star Wood Products in preparation for expanding the scope of the forest restoration efforts under Phase 2 of 4FRI.
“Arizona’s loggers have a rich history of taking care of our forests and we are united in working together with NewLife Forest Products to get the job done,” said Allen Reidhead of Tristar Logging. “We believe our harvesting experience and facilities on the east side of the forest really complement NewLife’s growing capabilities in manufacturing and remanufacturing on the west side.”
Good Earth Power AZ and NewLife Forest Products is backed by Lateral Investment Management, a San Mateo, Calif.-based private credit and growth equity firm that partners with owner-operated companies that are building infrastructure for growth and a better world.
“We believe the ecosystem that NewLife Forest Products is helping to create in Arizona with the USFS will serve as a model for helping to restore forests and prevent catastrophic wildfires throughout the region,” said Richard de Silva, managing partner of Lateral. “The mission of the company to reduce fires and to restore the forest is as compelling as the opportunity to create high quality jobs and a successful company.”