US Forest Service Woody Biomass Utilization

Woody Biomass Utilization

Bitterroot Valley

Darby, Montana

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.

Links

The demonstration site was in the Bitterroot Valley.

Picture of the John Deere Slash Bundler model 1490D at the Bitterroot Valley demonstration site.
John Deere Slash Bundler model 1490D at the Bitterroot Valley demonstration site. Bundles were decked prior to transport to the Darby School for grinding to create fuel for their "Fuels for Schools Demonstration Project."
Picture of demonstration attendees involved in a discussion at the demonstration site.
The demonstration was well attended. There were presentations about fuels reduction, forest residue bundling technology, and utilization of fuels reduction by-products.
Picture of a Valmet forwarder at work.
The demonstration was conducted on a job of Matt Arno's Woodland Restoration Company. This is the Valmet forwarder at work.
Picture of a man taking samples from slash bundles for shipment and testing by the Forest Service Forest Products Lab.
Samples were taken from the slash bundles to shipment to the Forest Service Forest Products Lab to measure the BTU content of the bundles.
Picture of the slash bundler at work on the Bitterroot demonstration site.
The slash bundler at work on the Bitterroot demonstration site.
Picture of piled trees following a feller-buncher operation.
A second demonstration took place at the Burnt Fork Ranch. This picture shows piled trees following a feller-buncher operation. Note the heavy dwarf mistletoe brooms. These trees were then processed to remove sawlogs. Afterwards, limbs and tops were bundled during the slash bundler demonstration.
Picture of a ponderosa pine stand following thinning and slash bundling operation.
A ponderosa pine stand following thinning and slash bundling operation. Note the slash bundle in the foreground.
Picture of a ponderosa pine stand one year after thinning on the Burnt Fork Ranch.
A ponderosa pine stand on the Burnt Fork Ranch following thinning by whole-tree yarding. Tops and limbs were chipped at the landing for fuel used by Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation in Missoula, Montana.

Contact

Obie O'brien
Email: saobrien@fs.fed.us
Telephone: (406) 449-5490

or,

Angela Farr
Email: afarr@fs.fed.us
Telephone: (406) 329-3650

US Forest Service
Woody Biomass Utilization Team
Sidney R.Yates Federal Building
3rd Floor Southwest
201 14th Street, S.W. at Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20250

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Location: http://www.fs.fed.us/woodybiomass/strategy/bundling/bitterroot-valley.shtml
Last modified: Friday, 29-Mar-2013 18:37:29 CDT