In late April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service announced it will award $1.5 million to seven rural communities through a new Community Wood Energy and Wood Innovation grant program. The new program aims to support the costs of installing wood energy systems and building innovative wood product facilities in rural communities across the country. Five of the communities will use locally-sourced wood to reduce energy costs and fossil fuel use while supporting local forestry operations. An additional $3.4 million in matching funds will also be collectively leveraged by the seven awardees, with the communities expected to save more than $250,000 a year by using locally supplied, renewable wood energy.
Most of the projects are close to national forests and have the added benefit of reducing forest waste residuals associated with increased wildfire risk. The biomass-related projects include: establishing a climate-controlled wood products manufactory for Icy Straits Lumber and Milling in Hoonah, Ark.; heating four tribal community buildings with a central system in the native village of Kluti-Kaah in Copper Center, Ark.; generating electrical and thermal energy to supplement Limington Lumber’s sawmill operations in East Baldwin, Maine; heating the 45,000 square-foot Community Centre in Middle River, Minn.; producing process heat for Iron Triangle’s operations in John Day and Seneca, Ore.; generating heat to dry lumber at Vaagen Timbers’ Coleville, Wash., plant; and establishing district heating and hot water for a 103,000 square-foot prison in Olympia, Wash.
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