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The Healthy Forests Initiative and Healthy Forests Restoration Act
Interim Field Guide

Title II—Biomass

This title provides the authority to obtain information that will help overcome barriers to the production and use of biomass and help communities and businesses create economic opportunity through sustainable use of the Nation’s forest resources. Three programs will help achieve those goals.

Research to Improve Biomass Use

In HFRA Section 201, the Biomass Research and Development Act of 2000 was amended to focus research on overcoming barriers hindering the use of biomass. Emphasis areas are:

  • Integration of silviculture, harvesting, product processing, and economic factors

  • Decision support for production and management alternatives

  • Tools for cost and stumpage analysis

  • Development of light-on-the-land, cost-effective mechanical treatment systems

  • Development of training materials

Funding authorization was increased by $5 million for the new research emphasis.

The Fiscal Year 2004 solicitation for the Biomass and Development Initiative was modified to include competitive funding opportunities for feedstock development, new products, and forest management training, as identified in the HFRA. Other research activities will continue as part of the Biobased Products and Bioenergy program within the USDA and in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy, including some of the focus areas under this section. Depending on funding levels, additional research will be accelerated, expanded, or developed to implement the HFRA fully. USDA Forest Service Research and Development has a comprehensive research program that includes forest biomass assessment, management, harvesting and recovery, utilization, processing, and marketing.

Rural Revitalization Through Forestry

Section 202 of the HFRA amended Section 2371 of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 6601). This section essentially replaces the USDA Forest Service State and Private Forestry Cooperative National Forest Products Marketing Program eliminated in 1990. The HFRA provides new authority, but in many ways, the policy and budget direction of the USDA Forest Service is in place and similar work is underway through a combination of different authorities. The efforts of State and Private Forestry Forest Product Conservation and Recycling utilization and marketing specialists, including the Technology Marketing Unit of the Forest Products Lab, USDA Forest Service Research and Development employees, and partnership coordinators in the NFS have had varying levels of success in assisting community-based enterprises over the years.

The HFRA provides direction to accelerate assistance to community-based enterprises and encourages the adoption of technologies that use biomass and small-diameter material. Success depends on the participation of State foresters’ utilization and marketing specialists, Federal and State economic development assistance agencies, local nonprofit organizations, and businesses involved in collective efforts to build community-based forest enterprises. Some promising areas include:

  • New emphasis to work with universities and the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service

  • Formalized procedures to access, select, fund, and monitor pilot or demonstration projects in targeted parts of the country

  • Greater emphasis on adding value to small-diameter and underutilized forest material, particularly biomass removed during fuel-reduction and restoration projects

Funding authorization is $5 million for each fiscal year from 2004 through 2008.

Biomass Commercial Utilization Grant Program

Section 203 of the HFRA contains the following language:

  1. IN GENERAL.—In addition to any other authority of the Secretary of Agriculture to make grants to a person that owns or operates a facility that uses biomass as a raw material to produce electric energy, sensible heat, transportation fuel, or substitutes for petroleum-based products, the Secretary may make grants to a person that owns or operates a facility that uses biomass for wood-based products or other commercial purposes to offset the costs incurred to purchase biomass.

  2. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.—There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section $5,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2004 through 2008.

If funds for this program are requested and appropriated, further guidance on implementation will be developed.

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