Tag Archives: forestry

[FEATURE] Out of the Fryingpan and Into the Fire: Debate Heats Up Over Clear-cutting in White River National Forest

– by Josh Schlossberg, March 8, 2017, Boulder Weekly

Conservationists are challenging a logging proposal that would clear-cut 1,300 acres in the White River National Forest northeast of Aspen, including endangered Canada lynx habitat and units adjacent to the protected Woods Lake Roadless Area.

The Upper Fryingpan Vegetation Management Project covers 1,848 acres in the Aspen/Sopris Ranger District in Eagle and Pitkin Counties, Colorado, with the goal of providing lumber and biomass energy, increasing the diversity of tree age and size, and creating snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) habitat, the primary food source of the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis).

However, a formal objection filed by Denver-based forest management analyst and consultant Rocky Smith, along with representatives from Rocky Mountain Wild, Rocky Mountain Recreation Initiative and a chapter of Great Old Broads for Wilderness, alleges the project would instead degrade habitat for lynx and other wildlife, disturb soils and watersheds, and impact scenery. Objectors say the U.S. Forest Service must draft an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to detail the project’s potential harm to ecosystems and offer alternatives that would shrink its footprint.

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[NEWS] Despite Advances, Costs Keep Wood Biocoal on Backburner

– by Frank Jossi, April 2, 2018, Energy News Network

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Photo: Energy News Network

At a research lab in the northwoods of Minnesota, scientists are roasting tree waste until it turns into something that looks and burns like coal — without the heavy metal pollution. The finished product is called “biocoal” or “torrefied biomass,” and a team of University of Minnesota-Duluth researchers hope it might someday displace coal to fuel power plants, reinvigorating the region’s forestry economy and reducing carbon emissions at the same time.

The work at the Natural Resources Research Institute lab, about 200 miles north of the Twin Cities, appears to be the latest technical advance for woody biomass. The team’s facility is able to produce as much as 6 tons per day of the biocoal, which has energy values similar to coal. It’s been successfully tested in a Milwaukee tourist train and a large, coal-fired power plant owned by Minnesota Power, the investor-owned utility in the area.

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Biomass Pellet Facility Opens in Utah

– by Erin Voegele, February 13, 2018, Biomass Magazine

active-energy_renewable-energy-magazineU.K.-based Active Energy Group plc has announced its CoalSwitch plant in Utah officially became operational the week of Feb. 5 and is producing the company’s high-calorific, high-bulk-density biomass pellet. Active Energy said biomass fuel produced at the facility will be prepared for delivery under offtake agreements that are already in place.

According to the company, CoalSwitch is produced primarily from forestry waste and other industrial cellulose waste products. The product can be fired with coal in existing coal-fired power plants at any ratio, up to 100 percent.

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[NEWS] Concord Blue Biomass Gasification Facility Breaks Ground in Arizona

– by Trudy Balcom, November 4, 2016, White Mountain Independent

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Concord Blue Biomass

It doesn’t look like much, but it’s a start.

Concord Blue Energy broke ground this week on its long-awaited biomass plant in the Eagar Industrial Park.

Geotechnical engineering for the plant has been completed — the only phase the company plans to complete this year.

The mechanical components for the bio-generating facility will be engineered and fabricated starting this winter, according to Scott Noll, vice president of project management at Concord Blue, which is based in Los Angeles, Calif.

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[EXCLUSIVE] Forest Service Studies Soil Impacts of Bioenergy Logging

– by Josh Schlossberg, The Biomass Monitor

A recent study from the U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS) Rocky Mountain Research Station investigates the potential impacts on forest productivity from logging for biomass energy. While the study focuses primarily on the Northern Rockies region—where only a handful of small combined heat and power and biomass heating facilities operate—many of the findings may be applied to western forests.

The study, Impact of Biomass Harvesting on Forest Soil Productivity in the Northern Rocky Mountains, by Woongsoon Jang and Christopher Keyes from the University of Montana, and Deborah Page-Dumroese with the Rocky Mountain Research Station in Moscow, Idaho, assesses one of the main environmental concerns surrounding an expansion of bioenergy, the impact on forest soil productivity.

USFS defines forest productivity as the “integration of all environmental factors encompassing soil productivity, climate, topography, geology, vegetation, and the history of natural disturbances and anthropogenic interventions.” Ultimately, the question is whether logging for bioenergy may impair future forest growth.

Logging for bioenergy involves removing more organic matter from the forest than conventional logging for lumber alone. The practice of whole-tree logging extracts not just merchantable tree trunks for lumber, but also treetops, branches, and other logging byproducts, and has a “substantial impact on live vegetation,” according to study authors.

Though whole tree logging is not typically employed in the western U.S. forests, the authors predict that forests will “likely be managed more intensively in the future,” in part for biomass energy.

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[NEWS] Aspen Power Biomass Facility in Texas Sold for $5M

– by Associated Press, November 1, 2016, Dallas News

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Photo: Biomass Magazine

A foreclosed East Texas power plant has been sold for nearly $5 million.

The Lufkin News reports the Aspen Power biomass plant in Lufkin was sold Tuesday to the lone bidder in an Angelina County court-ordered auction. An attorney represented the buyer, whose name wasn’t immediately disclosed.

The Aspen Power plant was marketed as the first wood-waste biomass electric generation facility in Texas. The 57-megawatt plant opened in 2011 but was idle in 2012 amid challenging market conditions.

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[OPINION] The Disconnect Between Myth and Reality in the Rim Fire

[Read the opposing view to this opinion piece, “Forest Biomass Utilization Combatting Catastrophic Wildfires,” by Julia Levin, Bioenergy Association of California & Tad Mason, Registered Professional Forester]

– by Chad Hanson, Research Ecologist, John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute

Large fires in the western U.S. have become the stuff of myth in recent years, with the public dialogue surrounding such fires now taking on the character of fish tales. Everything gets bigger, more dramatic, and more extreme with each telling, often resulting in an ever-widening gap between fact and fiction. There is perhaps no fire for which this is more true than the 257,000-acre Rim fire of 2013 in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.

Demonized by the Forest Service and the timber industry’s allies in Congress as a “moonscape,” where the fire burned so intensely that it “sterilized” the soil, the impression was created in the popular imagination of a landscape overwhelmingly dominated by high-intensity fire effects in the Rim fire, where every tree was killed and little or nothing would grow in the future. One local logging industry advocate claimed, without any basis in evidence, that the Rim fire moved so fast that deer could not outrun it and birds could not fly fast enough to escape. All of these claims were repeatedly reported in the news coverage as if they were fact. In the context of this narrative, pro-logging members of Congress and the timber industry pushed for a massive post-fire logging program on National Forest lands, and the U.S. Forest Service complied.

But it is now more than three years after the Rim fire, and the smoke has long since cleared, so what is the truth?

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