For all its dead lodgepole pines, Colorado was shut out of the latest round of grants awarded by the U.S. Forest Service for wood-to-energy projects, touted as a way to expand regional economies and create new jobs.
U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell announced the $2.5 million funding push last week. “These grants help grow new jobs, support clean energy production and improve our local environments, especially in reducing fire threats,” said Tidwell. “Communities from Massachusetts to Alaska will benefit from the program this year.”
The projects will use woody material removed from forests during projects such as wildfire prevention and beetle-killed trees, and process woody biomass in bioenergy facilities to produce green energy for heating and electricity.
The awardees will use funds from the Woody Biomass Utilization Grant program to further the planning of such facilities by funding the engineering services necessary for final design, permitting and cost analysis.
In fiscal year 2012, 20 biomass grant awards from the Woody Biomass Utilization Grant program totaling approximately $3 million were made to small business and community groups across the country. This $3 million investment leveraged more than $400 million of rural development grants and loan guarantees for woody biomass facilities.
The program has contributed to the treatment of more than 500,000 acres and removed and used nearly 5 million green tons of biomass at an average cost of just $66 per acre. Grantees also reported a combined 1,470 jobs created or retained as a result of the grant awards.
The program helps applicants complete the necessary design work needed to secure public or private investment for construction, and has been in effect since 2005. During this time period, more than 150 grants have been awarded to small businesses, non-profits, tribes and local state agencies to improve forest health, while creating jobs, green energy and healthy communities.
Out of the 17 applications received, the Forest Service selected 10 small businesses and community groups as grant recipients for these awards. According to the requirements, all 10 recipients provided at least 20 percent of the total project cost. Non-federal matching funds total nearly $6.3 million.
The following are the 2013 woody biomass utilization grantees:
2013 Woody Biomass Utilization Grantees
- Chilkoot Indian Association, Haines, Alaska $35,000
- Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Ketchikan, Alaska $143,363
- Sierra Institute for Community and Environment, Plumas County, Calif. $250,000
- Calaveras Healthy Impact Products Solution, Wilseyville, Calif. $184,405
- Narragansett Regional School District, Baldwinville, Mass. $250,000
- Stoltze Land and Lumber Company, Columbia Falls, Mont. $210,988
- New Generation Biomass, Alamogordo, N.M. $250,000
- Wisewood Inc., Harney County, Ore. $250,000
- Oregon Military Department, Salem, Ore. $250,000
- Menominee Tribal Enterprises, Neopit, Wis. $250,000