WASHINGTON, OCTOBER 20, 2015 AT 2:45 PM EDT - The U.S. Forest Service today announced that it is seeking proposals for projects to expand wood energy and wood products markets that support sustainable forest management, especially in areas with high wildfire risks. Grants will be made through the agency’s Wood Innovations program.
"Forests on public and private lands face an increasing threat of catastrophic wildfires as vegetative fuels build to unprecedented levels," said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "The grants provided through this program not only help reduce hazardous fuels and improve forest health, but also create jobs to promote economic vitality in our communities."
For Fiscal Year 2016, the program will invest up to $5 million in projects designed to have a long-term impact on the National Forest System and other forested lands by leveraging the market for low value wood.
Funding is available for a diverse range of activities, from completion of a final engineering design for a renewable wood energy system to a demonstration of wood as a primary building material in commercial construction. Funding may also support business planning and other efforts to accelerate the manufacturing, market adoption and demonstration of innovative wood products.
Since 2005, more than 200 grants have been awarded to small businesses, non-profits, Tribes, States, and local governments to improve forest health while creating jobs, renewable energy and healthy communities. Since 2013, this funding has also helped establish 20 Statewide Wood Energy Teams and five Statewide Wood Utilization Teams that collectively expand and support wood energy and wood products markets.
The deadline for proposals is Jan. 15, 2016. Information on how to apply is available in the Federal Register Notice.
The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, part 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 managed by the Forest Service contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation's clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.