Biomass is “biologically–derived renewable material” such as plant residues used to produce energy. California is also a leader in this emerging source of fuel. The State's 2011 update to its “Bioenergy Action Plan” estimates that biopower could produce 2,000 to 5,000 megawatts of localized renewable energy capacity by 2020.
BLM lands hold tremendous potential for this use. Currently, public lands produce 30,000 tons of biomass. Opportunities are being identified throughout the State to use this resource to produce energy.
BLM is currently cooperating with Modoc County and other partners on a biomass study area involving 6.6 million acres of juniper stands in northeastern California and northwestern Nevada. Juniper, an invasive species which encroaches on native sage-steppe vegetation, has the potential to produce 4 million tons of biomass. As an additional benefit, thinning juniper will reduce wildland fire fuels, benefit rangeland health, and restore sage grouse and mule deer habitat.
Juniper is fed through a chipping machine.