By The Associated Pfress

Businesses that lost out to a Montana-based company for a forest-thinning contract in northern Arizona this winter are not appealing the decision.

The Arizona Daily Sun reports the deadline to appeal the U.S. Forest Service's offering of one of the biggest contracts involving federal forest land has passed.

The contract is part of Arizona's Four Forests Restoration Initiative, a collaboration of federal state, business and environmental organizations working to thin 300,000 acres of forests in 10 years as a way to minimize forest fires, especially the huge devastating fires experienced in the state in the last decade.

Pioneer Associates plans to begin thinning nearly 5,000 acres in the Coconino and Kaibab national forests, weather permitting.

Residents and environmental groups have expressed concerns about the impact on wildlife and other issues. State wildlife officials say animals face a larger risk if large wildfires arise and the rate of forest thinning does not double.

The Forest Service said that Pioneer Associates will create 500 jobs and have a mill producing flooring and furniture by 2014.