Public–private partnerships spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service create jobs, support fire-safe communities, restore healthy forest conditions, and spur environmentally sound innovation. Recently, the Forest Service awarded over $8.9 million through the Wood Innovations Grant program. Thirty-nine business, university, nonprofit and tribal partners in 20 states are matching the grants with an additional $8.8 million.
Over the past decade, low harvest rates, aging forests, mortality from insect and disease infestations, and extreme weather events have combined to create conditions prime for catastrophic wildfires. These grants support the development of consumer products that use the excess forest material.
“Public–private partnerships supported by investments in wood innovations are key to managing wildfire risk and supporting healthy forests,” said Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen. “By advancing new solutions, we are making our forests and rural communities healthier and more resilient.”
This year the Forest Service received 140 proposals, demonstrating the expanding interest in using wood in traditional and unconventional ways—as an innovative building material or a renewable energy source.
Of the 41 projects selected, 29 focus upon expanding markets for wood products and 12 seek to increase markets for wood energy. Some projects involve the design of new mass timber buildings, such as a courthouse and K-12 schools, while others explore using mass timber in high velocity hurricane zones. Additional projects will help fuel small-scale, combined heat and power projects and biochar market development.
Projects will take place in 20 states including Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Virginia, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. More information on the program is available online at the Forest Service Wood Education and Resource Center.
A complete list of the selected projects can be found at https://www.fs.fed.us/news/releases/forest-service-announces-2019-wood-innovation-grant-awards-reducing-wildfire-risk-and