Woody Biomass Utilization Grant program a success

The Ecosystem Workforce Program at the University of Oregon announced the release of a new report. The Impacts of the Woody Biomass Utilization Grant Program in Eastern Oregon and Eastern Arizona evaluates the value of the USDA Forest Service’s Woody Biomass Utilization Grant program in eastern Oregon and eastern Arizona. These areas, according to the University of Oregon, “have extensive public lands, high wildfire risk, and limited biomass businesses.”

Even small investments in woody biomass utilization can have substantial impacts.

Even small investments in woody biomass utilization can have substantial impacts.

The authors (Emily Jane Davis, Anne Mottek Lucas, Yeon-Su Kim, Cassandra Moseley, Max Nielsen-Pincus, and Ted Bilek) analyzed the program’s effects on enterprise and industry capacity, state economies, and acres treated and green tons removed. According to the report released today, “This relatively small ($5 million authorized nationwide annually) program’s most clear accomplishments were its significant contributions to regional biomass processing capacity, which occurred despite challenging market and economic conditions.”

They concluded, “Given the complexities of public land management and associated business development, strategies such as the Woody Biomass Utilization Grant program are critical to increasing biomass utilization, but are likely to achieve greater outcomes when incorporated with other tools to improve federal agency and stakeholder capacity, active land management, and long-term industry sustainability.”

In 2013 the U.S. Forest Service awarded nearly $2.5 million in grants to 10 small businesses and community groups across the United States. Administered by the FPL Forest Products Marketing Unit, the biomass utilization grants support renewable wood-to-energy projects and expand regional economies through rural development and job creation.