WASHINGTON, OCTOBER 27, 2014 AT 11:45 AM EDT - The U.S. Forest Service today published a Federal Register Notice seeking proposals to expand wood energy and wood products markets to support sustainable forest management, especially in areas of the country with high wildfire risks.
“We must continue to find new, economically valuable ways to use wood,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “The biggest threat to forests is conversion to non-forest use. Harvesting wood can be used to help forest managers protect forests from hazards, such as insects, disease and fire.”
Proposals will be evaluated through the agency’s Wood Innovations program, which will provide roughly $5 million to help successful applicants increase or stimulate markets for wood energy and wood products in a manner which helps enhance forest sustainability while providing useful products and jobs for people.
The funding is available for a diverse range of activities such as completing the final engineering design for a renewable wood energy system or establishing statewide wood energy or wood utilization teams to demonstrating wood as a primary building material in commercial construction.
Bioenergy is the use of organic material, such as materials from forest thinning, residues, agricultural waste or urban wood waste, to generate heating, cooling and/or electricity.
Since 2005, more than 160 grants, typically for individual projects, have been awarded to small businesses, non-profits, Tribes, and State and local agencies to improve forest health while creating jobs, green energy, and healthy communities. Since 2013, 16 cooperative agreements with individual states have been awarded to establish Statewide Wood Energy Teams that promote conversion of fossil fuel systems to wood energy for heating, cooling, and electricity.
The deadline for proposals is Jan. 23, 2015. Information on how to apply is available in the notice.
Today's announcement also supports objectives identified in the White House Council on Environmental Quality's recently released Climate and Natural Resources Priority Agenda.
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.