Thank you all for joining us here today.
At this very moment, courageous firefighters are battling significant blazes -- the Gladiator and Sunflower fires raging between where we stand and Phoenix.
All of our state lands are under fire restrictions.
Our drought continues.
But, in the midst of these serious circumstances, I've come to applaud the historic progress that's been made to help prevent catastrophic fires, protection of our forests and our communities.
The Four Forest Restoration Initiative -- 4FRI -- started six years ago -- has been a remarkable process -- whose hallmark has been collaboration.
And now, thanks to the perseverance of many of you here -- Butch, Corbin, Earl, Marcus -- and countless others -- Pioneer Forest Products has been chosen as the 4FRI contractor.
This is the largest contract the Forest Service has awarded in the lower 48 states in the last 30 years.
We need 4FRI to be successful. I hope that this is just the start of many such Initiatives across the Arizona and the West.
We all need to be stewards of Arizona's magnificent resources.
Restoration of our forests is critical to the safety of our communities, to the resiliency of our beautiful forests, and to our state's rural economy.
Last year's destructive fire season and the strong beginning of this year's fire season are strong evidence that many of our national forests are in poor health and that immediate restoration treatments are needed.
I signed HB2332 to provide incentives to greatly increase Arizona's forest industry capability to perform restoration work -- and one of the incentives within the bill provides for workforce education tax credits that will train forest industry workers in up to date restoration harvesting techniques.
So, the fires continue to threaten in Arizona, and brave firefighters continue to battle to save our land and communities.
But, today, we're all especially proud of the efforts of the State of Arizona, the U.S. Forest Service, and the 4FRI stakeholder group.
Today, we applaud the first phase of the project culminating, at long last, with a contract -- that will treat 300,000 acres over the next ten years. Thank you.