Biden-Harris Administration earmarks $43 million to advance innovation in wood

More than $43 million has been earmarked to support innovative uses of wood, including as a construction material in commercial buildings, as an energy source, and in manufacturing.

Photo By Oregon Department of Forestry

WASHINGTON — The Biden-Harris Administration announced June 9 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing more than $43 million to expand innovative uses of wood, including as a construction material in commercial buildings, as an energy source, and in manufacturing and processing input for wood products used in framing homes, making paper products and more.

Made possible in part by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, these funds are being invested in 123 projects nationwide through Community Wood Grants and Wood Innovations Grants - longstanding Forest Service grant programs that promote innovation in wood products and renewable wood energy economies. Since 2015, the Wood Innovations and Community Wood Grant programs have provided more than $93 million to 381 recipients to support wood products and wood energy projects.

“With crucial funding through the Investing in America agenda, the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to supporting the wood products and wood energy economies that are the lifeblood of so many people, especially for tribal and disadvantaged rural communities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “By building more sustainably, we are able to address the ongoing wildfire crisis and lower risks to our communities, while also creating new markets for the excess and hazardous wood we need to remove from our fire-prone western landscapes and creating jobs and wealth in rural communities along the way.”

Funded proposals under these USDA grant programs expand and retrofit wood energy systems and wood products manufacturing facilities and develop markets for innovative uses of mass timber and renewable wood energy. Projects also help to restore healthy forests and reduce wildfire risk, protecting communities, infrastructure and resources while curbing climate change. Grant recipients include for-profit entities, state and local governments, tribes, school districts, community-based non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, and special purpose districts.

One of the funded proposals under the Community Wood grant program includes $1.2 million to commission a 3-megawatt thermally led wood energy facility operated by Hat Creek Bioenergy in Burney, California. This facility will provide renewable, biomass-based energy to the community and contribute to a diversified energy mix.

Another funded proposal under the Wood Innovations grant program includes more than $300,000 for Tahoe Forest Products, based in Carson City, Nevada. Tahoe Forest Products operates a sawmill alongside the Washoe Development Corporation, an affiliate of the Washoe Tribe of Nevada & California, to reduce fuels on public and private land by milling logs commercially. Tahoe Forest Products supports work to salvage and clean up areas impacted by devastating wildfires by offering a convenient location to deliver salvaged timber, while supporting local employment opportunities, including for tribal members.

This announcement is part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to grow the American economy from the bottom up and the middle out by rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, driving over $470 billion in private sector manufacturing investments, creating good-paying jobs, and building a clean energy economy to tackle the climate crisis and make our communities more resilient.

The investments announced today directly support the Forest Service’s 10-year strategy to address the wildfire crisis in the places where it poses the most immediate threats to communities. Healthy, resilient forests depend on a healthy forest products economy, and the Forest Service is investing in projects that source wood from activities that reduce risks to communities, like fuels treatments and mechanical thinning.

For more information on the projects funded under the Wood Innovations and Community Wood grant programs, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/science-technology/energy-forest-products/wood-innovation/grants.

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Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).