TUOLUMNE COUNTY - The federal government has loaned Tuolumne County $17 million to fund ventures that convert wildfire fuel into wood products or energy. Tuolumne County is located in California's Sierra Nevada region - an area dominated by national parks and forests.
The program's main objective is to restore health to the region's forests - many of which have not been cared for properly. Receiving businesses and groups would create jobs by transforming forest waste into building materials, fuel, or anything else for good.
Applications must be turned in by June 12. Loans will be provided at 3 percent annual interest over 30 years.
Sierra Pacific is one company that already owns sawmills in the region. 

Forest mortality exceeded net growth on America’s national forest timberlands in 2016, based on data publicly available from the U.S. Forest Service.

USFS said that forest growth was 48 percent of mortality, while timber harvests were just 11 percent of what is dying annually.  Forest mortality continues to trend upward, reports Healthy Forests Healthy Communities.

Last year the agency estimated there were 6.3 billion dead standing trees in 11 Western states. This means that far more trees are dying due to neglect such as catastrophic wildfire, insects, and disease, than are being harvested and utilized as wood products.

Our federal forests are not being actively managed, whether through logging, thinning and prescribed fire, said Healthy Forests Healthy Communities.  As a result, our forests are dying at a rapid rate. And today we have millions of acres with dense stands of trees that compete for light and water, making them more vulnerable to changing climate conditions, drought and insect infestations.


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