Washington State releases study showing that more than twice as much woodwaste could be taken from its forests for fuel production without harming forest health, paves way for long-term contracts for securing and using biomass

LOS ANGELES , March 14, 2012 () –

More than double the amount of woodwaste could be taken from Washington State’s forests without harming the forests’ health, according to a new study from the state’s Dept. of Natural Resources, (DNR), reported the Peninsula Daily News on March 13.

The study, which was released on March 13, estimates that 3 million tons of bone-dry wood slash and other woodwaste could be extracted from the state’s forests without adversely affecting wildlife habitat or forest regeneration.

The results pave the way for the DNR to sign long-term contracts with businesses that want to secure and use the biomass, said Brian Flint, spokesperson for DNR, the Peninsula Daily News reported.

Meanwhile, a DNR working group is studying forest practice rules for biomass products that will determine how much woodwaste needs to stay in the forest to maintain forest heath, said Flint.

The group is expected to make its recommendations by the end of this summer, and these would be considered for adoption by the state’s Forest Practices Board, he said.

The new study, which is entitled the Washington Forest Biomass Supply Assessment, does not address how burning biomass might affect human health, which is an issue at the center of two court cases in Thurston County Superior Court in Washington, reported the Peninsula Daily News.

These cases involve two biomass-burning projects that would generate electricity. One is proposed by Nippon Paper Industries USA in Port Angeles and the other is proposed by Port Townsend Paper Corp. in Port Townsend.

Biomass-related activities are a way to create new jobs and help offset the ups and downs of the lumber business, said Bill Hermann, owner of Hermann Brothers Logging & Construction Inc. in Port Angeles, Washington, the Peninsula Daily News reported.

The study was done by the University of Washington, College of the Environment, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences and TSS Consultants of Rancho Cordova, California, with funding from the U.S. Forest Service.

Some opponents of biomass projects were critical of the study. One opponent said it was important to know much woodwaste to leave in the forest, while another one questioned the conclusions because of DNR’s support for biomass and cogeneration, reported the Peninsula Daily News.

The primary source of this article is the Peninsula Daily News, Port Angeles, Washington, on March 13, 2012.


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