Millions of acres of forest and woodlands are in need of restoration to reduce to chance of a destructive wildfire or an outbreak of insects and disease. Forest restoration often involves cutting or thinning some of the small trees to free up water and nutrients for the other trees. The by-product of restoration is called woody biomass and is made up of the limbs, branches and other parts of the trees that weren’t harvested for firewood or timber products. Woody biomass has a number of important uses such as producing electricity as well as products like paper, furniture and wood for housing.
Most of the 16 million acres of BLM managed forests in need of restoration are a long distance away from many existing woody biomass markets. Transportation costs to these markets can be quite high, and establishing new markets for woody biomass is often difficult. The BLM is actively working with partners in local communities to identify and promote opportunities.
The BLM works jointly with the interdepartmental Woody Biomass Utilization Working Group (Woody BUG or WBUG). The current membership of the Working Group includes the Departments of Agriculture, Energy and Interior. Additional membership includes the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Environmental Protection Agency and others.
Since the passage of the 2005 Energy Policy Act, the BLM and the Forest Service have developed a joint action plan that authorizes transportation and research grants for BLM and Forest Service. These Woody Biomass Utilization Grants are funded through the USDA Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin. Read here for more information about these grants.