Producing Lumber and Jobs from Salvaged Logs and Forest Thinnings

Have you heard the buzz? A new high-production small log sawmill is celebrating its grand opening this week in Eagar, Ariz., and it’s making a big impact on forest health and the regional economy.

The newly named Four Corner Forest Products, owned and operated by Vaagen Brothers Lumber, runs a high-speed mobile HewSaw capable of producing more than 100,000 board feet of lumber per shift. The lumber is sawn from logs salvaged from recent catastrophic wildfires in northeast Arizona and northwest New Mexico and from small-diameter logs harvested as part of fuels reduction activities in the region.

High-speed mobile HewSaw.

High-speed mobile HewSaw.

The mill is a boon for the people of Eagar, a community of about 4,900 people located in central eastern Arizona. Located in a formerly abandoned production facility, Four Corner employs 15-30 people directly and supports 25-50 forest logging jobs.

The opening of Four Corner Forest Products is essentially Phase Two of a continuing partnership between the U.S. Forest Service, Vaagen Brothers Lumber, and Future Forest.

In Phase One, the partners worked with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and several other industry partners to demonstrate the mobile HewSaw in northern Wisconsin.hewsaw1

The purpose of the demonstration in Wisconsin was two-fold. First, to improve forest management by introducing the latest sawmill technology to the Great Lakes region.  Second, to assess the potential of high-speed mobile sawmilling for processing small-diameter trees removed from fuels reduction projects, landscape restoration, and forest thinning operations.

The demonstration resulted in stimulating $7.5 million of capital investment by a Wisconsin sawmill, leading to more than 75 jobs created and retained in Wisconsin’s north woods.