Washington Forest Biomass Supply Assessment finds room to grow commercial forest biomass industry

Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark
Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark at a news conference Tuesday, March 13, to announce the release of the Washington Forest Biomass Supply Assessment.
Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark speaks about biomass tonight (March 14) at 7 pm & 10 pm on TVW’s The Impact

 Announced at a news conference in Olympia yesterday, the Washington Forest Biomass Supply Assessment is now online. The study indicates that only a small fraction of the forest biomass that is already commercially available on private and public lands in Washington State was put to commercial uses in 2010, and that plenty more of the product could be removed without environmental consequences to the forests.

“This study demonstrates that there is ample supply of forest biomass to support expansion of Washington’s bio-energy sector,” Goldmark told the media at Tuesday’s news conference. “This important sector can create needed green jobs, contribute to the state’s renewable energy portfolio and provide new revenue for education and counties.”

Among the media reporting on the study’s release were:

KPLU: An under-used resource in Washington: forest biomass
My Northwest/KIRO: State would increase harvest of logging leftovers for fuel
Peninsula Daily News
: State DNR biomass report says slash extraction won’t hurt forests

  

The first-in-the-nation study concluded that sustainable uses of forest biomass are commercially viable in Washington State at present harvest levels. About two-thirds of the biomass produced in logging operations in 2010 remained on the landscape. With that amount of potential supply, the amount removed could more than double and still leave enough biomass behind to keep forest soils healthy.

The study (funded by a grant from the U.S. Forest Service) emerges from the DNR Forest Biomass Initiative, which Goldmark proposed in 2009. The initiative is seeking ways to create and supply new markets for the sustainable use of forest biomass — the woody residue remaining after timber harvests and forest health thinning operations. Ideas for using the product include refining it into jet fuel and other products that would bring more value from the biomass.

The study was performed by the University of Washington School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, with TSS Consultants.

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