Production begins at $80 million Arizona sawmill; hiring is underway
April 28, 2021 | 10:34 am CDT
NewLife Forest sawmill

BELLEMONT, Ariz. - Operations have officially begun at NewLife Forest Products' new $80 million sawmill in Arizona. 

Located on a 35-acre site, the 425,000-square-foot mill will manufacture lumber, engineered wood products, and biomass. At full capacity, the mill will produce as much as 120 million board feet of lumber annually - making it the largest sawmill in the state, according to the company.

The goal of the operation is to help thin the fire-ravaged forests of Arizona, which NewLife says are upwards of 20 times more overgrown than normal. The U.S. Forest Service is collaborating with NewLife in the effort under the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI).

“This is the most exciting and important project I have been involved with in my 40-year career in the forest products industry,” said NewLife Forest Products CEO Ted Dergousoff. “This magnificent 425,000-square-foot sawmill facility allows us to spring forward in our scale as a company and as a vital local industry. This will allow us to work with our partners to effectively thin the forests while producing world-class lumber products.”

NewLife estimates that about 80 percent of Arizona’s forests are overgrown and unhealthy.

"The resulting conditions have led to catastrophic wildfires in the state, including two in recent years that each destroyed a half-million acres," says the company. "The Four Forest Restoration Initiative or 4FRI is an initiative by which the US Forest Service and local stakeholders seek to restore Arizona’s forest to a more healthy and natural state. NewLife Forest Products is managing the Phase 1 4FRI contract with the US Forest Service and remains committed to revitalizing the local community and reducing catastrophic wildfires."

Hiring is underway, with plans to employ 200 local workers.

NewLife specializes in ponderosa pine. Some of the company's products include landscape bark, horse bedding, woodchips, and soils.

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Robert Dalheim

Robert Dalheim is an editor at the Woodworking Network. Along with publishing online news articles, he writes feature stories for the FDMC print publication. He can be reached at [email protected]