Biomass explored as fuel reduction option |

Biomass explored as fuel reduction option

Nevada conservationists are trying to find profitable ways to reduce fuel hazards in the Tahoe Basin.

The Nevada Tahoe Conservation District received a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Forest Service last month to figure out how to remove dead and dying wood from the basin’s forest and reuse it.

The district plans to set up an advisory committee that will study the issue, evaluate local support for forest health and come up with ways to turn hazardous wood into energy.

Jason Drew, district program manager, said he hopes to have the committee formed by October and an outline for a fuel program completed next year.

“We’re really going to look at how we can produce green energy in the basin,” Drew said. “I think the outcome could be very positive. There’s a lot of good things going on with the district as far as forest health and lake clarity.”

Drew said the dead and dying wood could be recycled to make other wood products, could be used for diesel fuel or power plants.

He said there are machines that plug into electric lines, chip the wood and turn it into electricity. The district is scheduled to analyze the expense of these machines and the feasibility of building a biomass plant in the Truckee area. It will also explore business opportunities and the development of marketing products produced by the wood.

Forest Service officials feel the work is important because small trees and dead wood lying around the forest are what spread fire rapidly.

“I am very pleased to be able to announce this grant, as we work with local communities, tribes and private landowners to reduce the risk of wildfires in the Tahoe Basin that we all cherish,” said Maribeth Gustafson, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit supervisor.

The grant is funded by the National Fire Plan to provide assistance to local communities attempting to reduce wildfire risks.

Fifty-six grants worth $2.6 million were awarded throughout California to reduce hazardous fuels. Forest Service officials said statewide grant requests exceeded available funds, however the agency may consider additional applications in the future.

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