Carson City composting company pitches services to basin agencies |

Carson City composting company pitches services to basin agencies

Andrew Pridgen

Chuck Taylor / Special to the Tahoe Daily Tribune / Caltrans workers remove a dead tree Tuesday as part of a fuel reduction program at 871 Emerald Bay Road. Plans are in the works to use dead trees removed from the Lake Tahoe Basin for alternative energy.

Carson City Renewable Resources is looking to partner with several basin agencies including the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, the U.S. Forest Service and both Nevada and California state park lands to provide environmentally friendly and renewable ways to aid in the area’s fire fuels reduction effort.

The state-of-the art facility uses a conveyor system to take brush, trees and other ground cover from densely wooded areas and turns it into compost.

From wood chips to fine potting soil, the center was first created to remove brush and other materials around Carson City, but has expanded its facilities and programs and is now setting its sights on the basin.

TRPA Executive Director John Singlaub is familiar with the agency from his days working with the Bureau of Land Management and endorses basin agencies, including his own, procuring the services of CCRR.

“It started as Carson was interested in reducing the total volume of vegetative material including construction waste,” Singlaub said. “The city approached the BOLM for land to work on, we were able to make it available – and the program took off from there.”

The program not only does its share of helping the environment, but a new $6.4 million project to provide heat, water and generate electricity at the Nevada Correctional Center prison by burning chipped wood – one of the byproducts the facility generates – and helps turned dumped wood into a fuel source.

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The program includes construction of a burned-wood energy plant next to the prison and would save the Nevada Department of Corrections an estimated $1.2 million in reduced fuel costs said Tom Glab, chief of plant operations for Nevada Department of Corrections.

CCRR is counting on working in the basin to provide the “prison-fuels” program with some 22 tons of chipped wood per day that it will take to provide necessary energy to the prison facility.

CCRR manager Stan Raddon said about three-quarters of wood will come from “wood wastes” from construction like empty pallets, the rest will come from the basin.

Singlaub said there should be ample opportunity for CCRR to get the wood and other materials it needs from the basin.

“Obviously we’re in the beginning stages,” Singlaub said Tuesday after watching a demonstration in Carson City with several officials from agencies. “I think everyone’s impressed not only with the technology and the idea but how this program can actually work to benefit so many people and programs.

“What the Forest Service was saying today, if they pick out an area that needs to have fuels treatment, they go out to bid and if CCRR gets the contract, they turn the whole thing over to them start to finish. That’s a good thing, an efficient thing and cost-effective too.”

NLTFPD Fire Chief Jim Linardos said he was “very impressed” with the work that CCRR can do and “would like to partner with them in the future.”

“We’re always excited to see these new ideas and new innovations,” Linardos said. “The key seems to be the cost issue, as we continue to see the costs and as they become more competitive, then we can get something going.”

Linardos explained most of his district’s fire fuels reduction work is done through grants or contracts and usually in conjunction with partners. In Incline, IVGID usually teams up with the district to do summer clearing projects and fall’s prescribed burn season.

“But when you’re talking about (CCRR) they could be directly contracting or in conjunction with our crews,” Linardos. “The potential is exciting. The fire board says they want this to work, and as fuels work progresses, we’d like to see more contractors like this get involved – more equipment, time, people and money.”

In the meantime, CCRR’s composted products will also soon be available throughout the basin for sale, Singlaub said.

One product is a fine potting soil which uses milfoil, the tall, dark green weed that choke off oxygen to fish, encourages algae to grow, and smothers native aquatic plants in at least 16 locations in the basin, as an ingredient.

“They’ve already taken out 2,000 tons of milfoil in the Tahoe Keys,” Singlaub said. “They heat it up, grind it with other forest products and give it a potting-soil-like consistency. By the time the process is done, people around the basin can use it for planting, and it’s lake-friendly.”