Olympia, WA - It's not exactly spinning straw into gold, but the
potential for making some money from wood waste is there for public or
private parties. The State of Washington wants to partner with
companies to take wood waste off state land and use it to make biofuel
or electricity, and it will select two groups to begin pilot projects.
Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark says the technology is proven
and the drivers behind it are strong. It doesn't make sense to pollute
the air by burning years' worth of old timber slash piles, he says,
when they could be a money-making resource for the state, and prompt a
new "green" industry that creates jobs.
"We're very excited about this opportunity to get started on developing
our own energy independence while we're improving the health of our
forests and cutting back on the risks of wildfires. We're looking
forward to forming some great partnerships."
Some mills and manufacturers already use their own wood waste to
generate power for their facilities, but not from state forests. The
need to get rid of thousands of tons of biomass in Eastern Washington
is especially urgent, says Goldmark.
"There's a lot of dead and dying timber there, from drought or from bug
kill or just from too dense a stand. This is creating a real risk of
wildfire and it drives up the cost of suppressing any fires that start."
The state has almost 2 million acres of forestland and an enormous
supply of biomass to work with. The Department of Natural Resources
will be taking letters of interest until August 21 from anyone who has
ideas or technology for processing the wood waste. Instructions for
submitting a letter are online at www.dnr.wa.gov