US Forest Service Woody Biomass Utilization
Slash Bundler Returned to the Bitterroot
The slash bundler machine that was on public demonstration near Stevensville, Idaho, last August (2003) returned in October to finish its work. The August demonstration was cut short due to wildfire activity in the area. The slash bundler is the first machine of its kind to work in North America. This demonstration was part of a research project to test the bundler's potential for reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire. The project was sponsored by the USDA Forest Service and the machine's manufacturer, John Deere.
The slash bundler is like a giant trash compactor for the tree limbs and tops typically piled and burned during logging and fuels reduction. The bundler moves through the forest, picks up this "slash," compresses it and rolls it into "logs&" bound with twine, which can be cut to any length, transported and fed into a chipper to make wood chips for heat or energy generation.
Millions of forested acres in the west are at higher than normal risk for catastrophic wildfire, in part due to high tree density and a buildup of undergrowth following years of fire suppression. Reducing the risk generally requires removing brush and some trees to lower forest density.
New bundling technology may lower the cost of fuels reduction by providing an easier way to dispose of brush, small trees, tree limbs and tops, which are generally expensive and difficult to remove and of no commercial value. The bundler creates a commercial product and a healthier, cleaner alternative to openly burning slash—since wood chip fired furnaces emit much less greenhouse gases and particulates than open burning. The bundler is also engineered for minimal impact to the ground.
Slash bundlers are manufactured by John Deere in Scandinavia, where more than 20 are now in use. The Bitterroot demonstration was the last of eight that took place in the summer of 2003, to determine how well the machines work in our dense western forests. The tests examined how well the bundler maneuvers in various forest types and conditions, its impact on the ground, and its operation costs compared to other fuels reduction methods. The tests were funded primarily by the USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and John Deere Corporation.
A public and media demonstration of the Slash Bundler was held October 2, 2003.
The demonstration site was in the Bitterroot Valley.
US Forest Service
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Last modified: Tuesday, 24-Jun-2008 22:47:37 EDT