U.S. Forest Service seeks bids to thin dense stands of trees in Arizona

The U.S. Forest Service is seeking proposals to remove dense stands of trees in a wide swath of Arizona to help prevent wildfires.

The work is part of the Four Forest Restoration Initiative, known as 4FRI.

The agency released a request for proposals Monday for work on up to 1,278 square miles (3,310 square kilometers) in parts of the Kaibab, Coconino, Apache-Sitgreaves and Tonto national forests. The proposals are due Dec. 16.

The contracts that can run up to 20 years will be awarded in April.

The pace of the work done so far has been slow. The Forest Service hoped to have 78 square miles (202 square kilometers) of forest mechanically thinned each year but only about a third of that has been done on average.