US Forest Service awards Wood Innovation Grants

By U.S. Forest Service | May 18, 2018

On May 16, USDA Forest Service Interim Chief Vicki Christiansen announced the award of almost $8 million to expand and accelerate wood products and wood energy markets.  The Wood Innovation Grants will stimulate the removal of hazardous fuels from national forests and other forest lands to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, promote forest health, and reduce the cost of forest management. 

The investment of federal funds will leverage over $13 million in matching funds from 33 business, university, nonprofit, and tribal partners in 20 states for a total investment of over $21 million.

“These Wood Innovation grants advance state-of-the-art solutions to reducing wildfire risk and making our forests healthier and more resilient,” Christiansen said. “The public-private partnerships leveraged with these grants also foster increased economic development in rural communities.”

Previous grants supported successful blast testing of cross-laminated timber (CLT) that directly resulted in the Department of Defense using CLT on its on-base hotels; and the funding of a feasibility analysis for a new CLT manufacturing facility to increase the amount of U.S.-made CLT.

This year the Forest Service received 119 proposals, demonstrating the expanding interest in using wood in both traditional and unconventional ways, such as an innovative building material and as a renewable energy source. Since 2005 more than 260 grants have been awarded to improve forest health, create jobs, invest in renewable energy, and support healthy communities.

Of the 34 projects funded in 2018, 28 focus upon expanding markets for wood products, and six seek to increase markets for wood energy. Some examples include utilizing small-diameter woody material in cross laminated timber (CLT) panels, addressing affordable housing in the northeast building market with mass timber, converting woody debris to renewable natural gas for transportation fuel, and using juniper biomass and biochar to filter heavy metals and manage storm water.

Since 2013 this funding has helped establish 22 Statewide Wood Energy Teams and eight Statewide Wood Utilization Teams that collectively expand and support wood energy and wood products markets. This year, two more Statewide Wood Utilization Teams will be established in Hawaii and Virginia. These multiagency teams include federal, state, business, nonprofit, and other partners.

Recipients of the 2018 Wood Innovation grants are from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. More information on the grant and cooperative agreement program is available online at the Forest Service Wood Education and Resource Center.

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 30 percent of the nation’s surface drinking water to cities and rural communities and approximately 66 million Americans rely on drinking water that originated from the National Forest System. The agency also has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 900 million forested acres within the U.S., of which over 130 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.