– 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.
In August, The Biomass Monitor hosted a debate between Chad Hanson, Ph.D., Director and Principal Ecologist for John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute and David Atkins, former Forest Service ecologist and forester and current president of Treesource, over the effectiveness of cutting trees in backcountry forests to limit the spread and intensity of wildfire.
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– by Darren Fishell, May 5, 2017, Bangor Daily News
Photo: Bangor Daily News
Stored Solar, a biomass plant that qualified for taxpayer subsidies has been offline for more than a month as the company says it tries to retool its plans at the facility.
Company spokesman Dan Cashman last week said that a boiler leak and wood supply problems during the muddy late spring led the company to close the wood-to-energy plant and analyze their operations.
– by Fred Bevers, March 23, 2017, Maine Public
Photo: Bangor Daily News
State regulators are asking a biomass electricity company to explain why it’s not paying loggers for fuel, even though it received a state subsidy for that purpose.
Last year Maine lawmakers and Gov. Paul LePage authorized state utility regulators to award biomass electricity companies more than $13 million to boost payments for power generated in Maine. The goal was to assist Maine’s beleaguered forest products industry in the wake of multiple mill closures.
But loggers say one company that won a bid for the subsidy isn’t paying its debts.
Dana Doran, executive director of the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine, says Stored Solar, which operates plants in Enfield and Jonesboro, hasn’t paid many logging contractors in a month or more.
“Going as far back as second week in February. So the members just have not seen payments after that point in time for the majority of them. So it’s a very challenging situation,” he says.
Stored Solar has already received more than $400,000 in taxpayer subsidies this year, with the provision that it create 24 jobs and and buy a half million tons of biomass over the year.
READ MORE at Maine Public
– by Erin Voegele, January 19, 2017, Ethanol Producer Magazine
Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue (Photo: Georgia Governor’s Office)
On Jan. 19, President-elect Donald Trump nominated former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to lead the USDA. The nomination, which is subject to U.S. Senate confirmation, represents Trump’s final cabinet selection. Perdue served as Georgia governor from 2003 through 2011.
Members of the biofuels and bioenergy industries have spoken out in response to Perdue’s nomination, indicating they look forward to working with him to continue growing biofuel and bioenergy production.
The Biomass Power Association praised Perdue’s nomination. “Under Governor Perdue’s leadership, the state of Georgia embraced bioenergy in many forms, including biomass power,” said Bob Cleaves, president of Biomass Power Association. “The agriculture secretary plays an important role in overseeing forestry on federal lands. Biomass can help enhance forest health by providing a market for hazardous fuel removal.”
– by Trudy Balcom, November 4, 2016, White Mountain Independent
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.
– by Associated Press, November 1, 2016, Dallas News
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.
[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?
[Read the opposing view to this opinion piece, “The Disconnect Between Myth and Reality in the Rim Fire,” by Chad Hanson, John Muir Project]
– by Julia Levin, Executive Director, Bioenergy Association of California & Tad Mason, Registered Professional Forester
California’s 2013 Rim Fire burned more than a quarter million acres; early estimates suggest that damage to the environment and property values could reach $1.8 billion. It destroyed wildlife habitat, released millions of tons of carbon emissions, and damaged key watersheds.
Sadly, catastrophic wildfires like the Rim Fire are increasing in frequency throughout the inland West. Land managers are very focused on proactive strategies to address the unnatural buildup of forest biomass. Forest thinning and hazardous fuels removal are important strategies to return forest landscapes to a healthier and more fire resilient condition. Utilization of this excess forest biomass as a feedstock for renewable power generation can provide a market-based solution that serves as an alternative to current biomass disposal techniques such as piling and burning or leaving biomass material on site.
Western forests are suffering from the combined impacts of past fire suppression efforts, development, and climate change, which is causing higher temperatures, reduced snow pack, invasive species and more intense weather events that trigger wildfires. Together, these factors are causing a perfect storm of weakened, combustible forests that lead to catastrophic wildfires. California has lost more acres to wildfire in the past five years than in the previous seventy years combined. In 2015 alone, California lost an area larger than the state of Rhode Island to wildfire. Other western states tell a similar story.
– by Joseph Pomerening, October 24, 2016, Renewable Energy World
Photo: Renewable Energy World
When you think of Colorado, images of snow-capped mountains and lush evergreen forests may come to your mind. But Colorado’s forests have been under attack. It began more than two decades ago when severe drought led to an infestation of mountain pine beetles, spruce beetles, and other pests. The beetle infestation, over time, killed millions of acres of lodgepole pine trees and other tree species. There is now an abundance of dead trees standing on the mountainsides of central and western Colorado.
Decomposition of dead trees occurs naturally and is healthy for a forest ecosystem. However, too many dead trees makes the region prone to forest fires that are costly and dangerous to contain. Forest fires can damage property and communities, harm wildlife, and threaten water supplies.