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U.S. Forest Service grants expand wood energy markets
U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell recently announced over $8.3 million to substantially expand and accelerate
wood products and wood energy markets. Federal funds will leverage almost $37 million in matching funds from 36
business, university, nonprofit, and tribal partners in 19 states for a total investment of over $45 million. The
public-private partnerships leveraged with these grants will lead to the removal of hazardous fuels from forests while
spurring the economic development of rural communities.
 
The awarded funds will stimulate the removal of hazardous fuels from national forests and other forest lands to
reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and promote forest health.
 
“The Wood Innovations Grant Program helps create jobs in rural communities and keeps our forests healthy,” Tidwell
said. “By investing in strong markets for forest products, we can incentivize sustainable forest management and
sustain our rural communities".
 
This year the Forest Service received 114 proposals, highlighting the expanding interest in using wood as an
innovative building material and renewable energy source. Since 2005 more than 230 grants have been awarded
to small businesses, nonprofits, tribes, states, and local governments to improve forest health while creating jobs,
renewable energy, and healthy communities.
 
Of the 38 projects funded, 26 focus upon expanding wood products markets, and 12 increase wood energy markets.
Projects address a wide range of issues that include increasing capacity at mass timber manufacturing facilities, testing
the resiliency of cross-laminated timber (CLT) structures against explosives, establishing biomass district energy
systems, and examining the use of biochar in restoring water quality.
 
Since 2013 this funding has helped establish 22 Statewide Wood Energy Teams and six Statewide Wood Utilization
Teams that collectively expand and support wood energy and wood products markets. This year, two more Statewide
Wood Utilization Teams will be established in Alabama and Arkansas. These multiagency teams include federal, state,
business, nonprofit and other partners.
 
Recipients of the 2017 Wood Innovation grants are from Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado,
District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. A complete list of the awards and more information on the grant and
cooperative agreement program is available online at the Forest Service Wood Education and Resource Center.
 
The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health,
diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.
The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners and
maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute
more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 30 percent
of the nation’s surface drinking water to cities and rural communities and approximately 66 million Americans rely on
drinking water that originated from the National Forest System.  The agency also has either a direct or indirect role in
stewardship of about 900 million forested acres within the U.S., of which over 130 million acres are urban forests where
most Americans live.
  Source:Biomass Magazine
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