The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service has announced that it is taking grant applications for projects that expand wood products and wood energy markets, especially in areas with high wildfire risk. Grants provided through the agency’s Wood Innovations program aim to not only help reduce hazardous fuels and improve forest health, but also to create jobs to promote economic vitality. Applications may be submitted through January 22, 2018.
In 2018, this U.S. Forest Service program will invest up to $7 million in projects designed to have a long-term impact on lands managed by the agency and other forest lands by leveraging the market for low-value wood. Funding is available to support a diverse range of activities, from completing engineering designs, cost analyses, permitting, or other requirements for the final stages of commercial construction projects using wood as a primary building material as well as developing a cluster of wood energy projects in a specific geographic area. Funding may also support business planning and efforts to accelerate the manufacturing, market adoption, and demonstration of innovative wood products, such as cross-laminated timber.
Since 2005, almost 280 grants have been awarded to small businesses, non-profits, institutions of higher education, tribes, states, and local governments to improve forest health while creating jobs, renewable energy, and healthy communities. Since 2013, this funding has also helped establish 22 Statewide Wood Energy Teams and eight Statewide Wood Utilization Teams that collectively expand and support wood energy and wood products markets.
October 15-21, 2017 is National Forest Products Week, which is focused on recognizing the value of America’s forests and the products those provide while recommitting to sustainably manage these natural resources to meet the nation’s needs now and in the future.
October 18 is National Bioenergy Day, a day to unite organizations across the country that support bioenergy to demonstrate the benefits that bioenergy provides at the local level. The U.S. Forest Service points out that a diversified wood products industry enhances resiliency of ecosystems, sequesters carbon, and creates jobs in rural communities.
The U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains world-renowned forestry research and wildland fire management organizations. National forests and grasslands contribute more than $30 billion to the American economy annually and support nearly 360,000 jobs. These lands also provide 30 percent of the nation’s surface drinking water to cities and rural communities; approximately 60 million Americans rely on drinking water that originated from the National Forest System.