Eagar does not face great risk of wildfire, especially relative to other nearby communities. Eagar's Fire Department has been pro-active in addressing the existing threat, but is constrained by the voluntary nature of the Department. Some efforts have been made to reduce hazardous fuel mechanically but these have not been successful. Prescribed fire has been a more effective means for reducing fuels on private property.
The real story in Eagar is the prominence and development of a horizontally and vertically integrated small diameter timber (SDT) industry. Eagar is part of a group of communities in Eastern Arizona committed to revitalizing the timber industry. Eagar is a member of the Arizona Sustainable Forestry Partnership, a group devoted to promoting SDT employment opportunities through ecologically based initiatives.
The biggest constraint for Eagar utilizers and providers continues to be a reliable supply of SDT. In 2002 the USFS had 100,000 acres NEPA ready for contracting, but the Rodeo Chediski Fire burned 80,000 of it. According to Bill Ripley, Forester at Springerville RD, there have been no contracts around Eagar. Ripley feels the reason is litigation created by environmental groups. In addition to having acres ready for treatment, finding contractors continues to be a challenge as well. The 150,000 acre White Mountain Stewardship Project promises to release lots of material. The deadline for bids is June 3, 2004. The USFS hopes to make a decision in July 2004 and have the contract in force by September.
Longer term goals for Eagar include establishing
a wood products association for local craftsmen and a nonprofit association
to create a branding of White Mountain wood product. "Whether someone
is making something here [in Eagar] or in Show Low, if it has that, we
hope to establish some type of recognition". Oriented
Strand Board (OSB) is another option for the Eagar area. Louisiana
Pacific is currently looking at opening a plant in Snowflake, Arizona,
about 45 miles northwest of Eagar. Louisiana Pacific has 30% of the OSB
market. There is no agreement yet with the company and it would take a
$100,000,000 investment. If the Louisiana Pacific negotiations do not
work out, the state will look for another OSB company.
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Copyright©2004 Toddi A. Steelman and North Carolina State University