Woodchips being loaded into a chip van

BLM Montana-Dakotas Biomass and Bioenergy

Woody Biomass is typically the portion of a tree or a small diameter tree that cannot be milled into lumber.  Clean woodchips are produce from the stem or bole with the bark removed.  Dirty woodchips includes the bark, branches, needles and cones.  The local biomass markets dictate the need for clean or dirty woodchips. 

The local market for biomass woodchips in the Montana and Dakota’s is limited but clean woodchips are currently being transported by train from Bonner, Montana to paper mills Idaho.  A majority of the biomass harvested in Montana is utilized as fuelwood, rustic furniture, craft wood, post and poles.  The Montana and Dakota’s forestry program has average approximately 6600 tons of biomass offered annually over the past 8 years.

The Montana and Dakota’s forestry program issues biomass sales by the ton through timber sale contracts, stewardship contracts and special forest product sales.  The harvest of biomass comes from many programs including forestry, wildlife, fuels and range improvement projects.

In many parts of the country biomass is being utilized to create renewable energy.  There is currently no known biomass energy producing infrastructure in the Montana or the Dakota’s.  Most of the large sawmills in the region utilize the waste from lumber production for power and heat of their operations.