USDA Awards Funds to Expand and Accelerate Wood Energy and Wood Product Markets

(The following is a USDA news release.)

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the award of over $9 million to expand and accelerate wood energy and other wood product markets. The federal funds will leverage $22 million in investments from partners, resulting in a total investment of $31 million in 23 states.

Even small investments in woody biomass utilization can have substantial impacts. (www.bugwood.org)

Even small investments in woody biomass utilization can have substantial impacts. (www.bugwood.org)

“Working with our partners, the Forest Service is promoting deployment of new technologies, designed to support new market opportunities for wood energy and innovative wood building materials,” said Vilsack. “This funding also supports forest management needs on the National Forest System and other forest lands throughout the United States.”

“The Forest Service recognizes the need for a strong forest products industry to help accomplish forest restoration work,” said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “One of the best opportunities for reducing the cost of restoration treatments is to ensure strong markets for the byproducts of these treatments.”

This year over 100 proposals were received for the Wood Innovations grant program, highlighting the expanding use of wood as a renewable energy source and as a building material. The awarded funds will stimulate the use of hazardous fuels from National Forest System lands and other forested lands to promote forest health while simultaneously generating rural jobs.

For more information on the grant and cooperative agreement program, visit http://www.na.fs.fed.us/werc/wip/2015-rfp.shtm.

States receiving funding include: Alaska, Ariz., Calif., Colo., Idaho, Ill., La., Mass., Mich., Minn., Mont., N.C., Neb., Nev., Ore., Pa., S.C., S.D., Utah, Va., Vt., Wash., and Wis. See a complete list of the awards.

The Secretary also announced a new partnership agreement between USDA and the Softwood Lumber Board (SLB) to help coordinate research, demonstration and market development for innovative wood building technologies in the built environment. The SLB is an industry-funded research and promotion program designed to promote the benefits and uses of softwood lumber products in outdoor, residential and non-residential construction. Through cooperative planning and execution of research and promotional activities, the USDA and SLB will create jobs in rural communities, expand wood use in the built environment and stimulate demand for forest products.