CHIP IN $10 TO SUPPORT JIM FOR SENATE >>
Arizona is blessed with nineteen million acres of forested land. Fifteen million acres are juniper and pinon-juniper variants covering 20% of our State. However, we annually have significant wildfires that burn large swaths of our forest.
The Arizona State Forestry Division deploys federal and state funds to address these priorities:
1. Conserve working forest lands
2. Protecting forests from harm
3. Enhance public benefits from trees and forests
Vast areas of our 19 million acres of Arizona’s forest lands are unhealthy and vulnerable to unnatural fire because of accumulated fuels, overcrowding, and drought.
We have pressure on the sustainability of our forests and increased risk of another devastating fire as in 2002 when the Rodeo fire destroyed 470,000 acres and 400 homes.
The Arizona State Forestry Division has done a good job of managing forest fires with half as much damage as California (1.5 acres per square mile in Arizona vs. 3.1 acres per square mile in California) over the past thirty four years.
However, the Arizona Forest Resource Strategy was last updated twelve years ago and should be revisited to align with the new reality of population pressure and drought. I believe that forests should be better utilized by shifting from our current, defensive and policy-driven perspective to a pro-active, common good strategy.
Forest floors can be better maintained by adding commercial incentives to build more biomass energy plants. For example, Arizona needs four biomass facilities to manage our forest deadwood and thin the overly populated, invasive species of junipers. Currently we only have one such facility near Overgard, AZ.
While these processing facilities cost more to build and operate (when used as a power source, compared to a utility-scale solar plant) there is an inherent value in maintaining cleaner forests. By thinning forests, we reduce forest fires and protect the integrity of our valuable top-soil to maintain our watershed protection. The added cost of these facilities to the average Arizona utility bill is $0.001 / kiloWatt hour, or about five dollars more per household per month. I believe the right action is for users to assume this nominal contribution and for the utility company’s to reduce their overhead cost. I also believe that Arizona should adopt an improved version of the Texas competitive utility market where rates are substantially lower than Arizona’s.
In the Senate, I will: