Updated: March 2, 2022 at 3:45pm mst
Phoenix – The Arizona Industrial Development Authority closed a nearly $200 million bond issue with NewLife Forest Restoration to improve forest health in northern Arizona and create valuable wood products.
NewLife will operate in four forests to thin the densely wooded areas that are susceptible to wildfires in the summer months.
“Every year, forest fires ravage our federal, state and private lands,” said Patrick Ray, the Arizona IDA program manager. “NewLife’s plan to thin our forests, provide jobs and turn potential fuel for fires into much-needed construction material will boost the area’s economy. The thinning projects will also diminish the dangerous fire seasons northern Arizona communities face every year.”
NewLife’s plan is part of the U.S. Forest Service’s Four Forests Restoration Initiative, or 4FRI program. The company will use the money to complete a 425,000-square-foot industrial facility in Bellemont, which will include a high-speed sawmill, planer mill and dry kilns. NewLife will also significantly expand the capacity of its lumberjack sawmill near Heber.
The Arizona IDA issued a sustainability-linked conduit revenue bond in the U.S. “green bond” market which mandates specific forest restoration targets. The thinning projects will take place Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Kaibab and Tonto national forests.
The Arizona IDA is a non-profit corporation formed in 2016 to make home ownership more affordable and issue conduit revenue bonds to lower financing costs for projects such as forest thinning. While the enterprise receives no public funds, its surplus revenues are distributed to the Arizona Housing Trust Fund and Office of Economic Opportunity. Since its inception, the Arizona IDA has delivered about $60 million to the state.