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Forest Service grants help design biofuel energy projects

Trees cleared during wildfire fuel reduction projects can be turned into fuel pellets, Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.

Trees cleared during wildfire fuel reduction projects can be turned into fuel pellets, Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.

Grant program has helped pay for forest wildfire fuel reduction projects

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — 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.” Continue reading

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Colorado: U.S. Forest Service offers up more logging subsidies

Two new 10-year stewardship contracts will help address the need for forest fuel reduction treatments. Bob Berwyn photo.

Stewardship contracts to help sustain forest products and energy businesses

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —The U.S. Forest Service will spend millions to prop up the wood product industry in Colorado and to subsidize more widespread logging projects in the name of forest health, restoration and renewable energy.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week announced two 10-year Forest Service stewardship contracts worth a total of $13.4 million. The two contracts identify projects that will treat a minimum of 20,000 acres in two national forests, providing woody biomass for potential energy production.

“Today’s announcement supports our commitment to accelerate restoration of our national forests and to generate and sustain jobs in rural America,” said USDA Under Secretary Harris Sherman. “Not only will these contracts help us alleviate the impacts of the mountain pine beetle infestation and reduce the threats of catastrophic wildfire, but they also will offer a supply of woody biomass that will be used to produce low-cost heat and a clean, renewable source of electricity.”  Continue reading

Large-scale forest bio-energy creates carbon debt

Study says nurturing healthy forests does more to curb global warming

Healthy, growing forests are good carbon sinks; converting woody biomass to energy results in a carbon debt that takes 100 years to repay.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — While some logging advocates continue to talk up forest biomass as a green energy source, there’s good reason it isn’t happening on a significant scale. Cutting wood and burning live trees, in whatever form, is just not energy efficient, except perhaps on a modest scale with low-frequency harvests every 50 to 100 years — or on a small, local level, where already dead wood is converted fuel on the spot.

In one of the most recent studies, researchers at Duke and Oregon State universities concluded that maintaining intact forests as carbon sinks does more to curb climate change over the next century than cutting and burning their wood as fuel.

After modeling numerous harvesting and conversion scenarios, the study concluded that it takes more 100 years to repay the carbon debt — the net reduction in carbon storage — incurred by cutting, transporting and burning woody forest biomass. Continue reading

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