Interior Department Awards $15 Million for Forest Thinning on Public Lands

May 27, 2009

The U.S. Department of the Interior announced on May 21 that it will award $15 million to 55 projects that will thin overgrown forests and remove potential fuels for wildfires on public lands. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds will create jobs in rural communities in 12 states, and many of the projects will produce biomass that can be converted into energy. The so-called "hazardous fuels reduction" projects include efforts to remove accumulated deadwood and dense underbrush from forests near communities that are susceptible to wildfires. The wood removed during such projects is generally of a poor quality that is not wanted by lumber mills, but it can serve as an excellent source of biomass energy. The 55 projects are being carried out under the Interior Department's Wildland Fire Management program, and 23 of them are specifically designated as biomass utilization projects. Those 23 biomass energy projects are located in eight states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin. See the Interior Department's press release and list of projects.