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Washington state studies forest biomass supply

July 22, 2010, Olympia, WA – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources is receiving a $1-million grant from the U.S. Forest Service to complete a statewide forest biomass supply study.


July 22, 2010
By Washington State Department of Natural Resources

July 22, 2010, Olympia, WA – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
has earned a $1-million grant from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to complete a
statewide forest biomass supply study. The study will help assess forest
biomass availability and sustainability considerations throughout Washington.
The grant, which is part of a new USFS initiative to help build and strengthen
markets for forest products, will provide funding for a supply study and will
test methods for making forest biomass material available for use across broad
areas that include diverse landowners.

“Existing
studies of biomass availability need refinement and improved detail if we are
to achieve the goal of creating new businesses and jobs without causing
unwanted environmental consequences,” says Peter Goldmark, commissioner of
public lands.

Sound science needed on forest biomass supply

Washington’s
forests have an abundant, renewable supply of woody biomass. Ensuring that
biomass removal happens in ecologically sustainable ways is a priority shared
among the DNR, USFS, and many others. Using some of this forest biomass for
liquid transportation fuel, heating, and electrical power generation will play
an important role in Washington’s emerging green economy and help to address
climate change. Improving forest health, creating jobs in rural parts of the
state, and reducing wildfire risk and greenhouse gas emissions are all benefits
of forest biomass use.

Where
previous biomass supply analyses have mostly examined coarse-scale factors like
total forest growth, the study funded by this grant will refine and improve
upon existing estimates using finer-scale data. Essential considerations like
individual land managers’ objectives, physical and economic factors for biomass
availability, and environmental sustainability will also be built into a range
of supply figures projected over time. These added refinements and
considerations will help inform decisions by biomass investors, for instance,
regarding prospective facility size and location.

DNR will
partner with state and federal research institutions and agencies to conduct
the study. A transparent public process will be part of its development. A
competitive request for proposals will be issued this summer for qualified
firms and organizations to bid on completing the study.

The
grant’s second task will be to test approaches for “all-lands” actions that
restore forest quality landscape-wide across ownership boundaries and make the
resulting biomass available for use by emerging businesses. Both the DNR and
USFS have identified “all-lands” efforts as a central need in their respective
strategies to address forest health.


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