Increasing the Value of Slash by Use in Oriented Strand Board
Federal land management agencies are facing increased costs due to more frequent and larger forest fires. The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have initiated a policy of reducing fuel loads in high risk forests by mechanically thinning small diameter trees and removing brush and downed wood. Currently, the land management agencies are treating around 4 million acres annually, but this pales relative to the 12 million acres needed to return high risk forest to fire tolerant condition. The high cost of mechanical treatments and low value of small diameter wood are major impediments to increasing treated acreage. This research assists fuels reduction projects by increasing market value for small diameter trees and logging slash. The project takes a closer look at chunkwood processing first developed in 1977 at the Northern Research Station lab in Houghton, MI. Branches and tree tops as small as 2 inch diameter are cut to 5 inch length, debarked, sliced into veneer chips and formed into oriented strand board - a product ideal for rural areas and arid regions of the country. In this process offers reduced transportation costs for slash because branch pieces have higher bulk density than wood chips. It also uses scalable methods that can be implemented as commercial processes.