PRINCETON, WVa— The U.S. Forest Service Wood Education and Resource Center (WERC) is accepting applications for cost-share demonstration project grants through February 1, 2011. The WERC grants support sustainable forestry and forest industry in the eastern hardwood region.

In previous years about $1 million has typically been divided among projects that help primary and secondary hardwood industries sustain the production of forest products. The final funding available will be determined once the Forest Service has received its official budget for fiscal year 2011.

WERC grants fund projects that strengthen the economic competitiveness of the forest industry. Businesses throughout the eastern hardwood forest region use the results of these projects to improve practices, expand market opportunities, and discover new product uses for renewable forest resources.

Forest industry businesses are a major employer in many rural communities. Projects funded through WERC grants provide companies with knowledge and technology to expand their business and hire more employees.

“As with previous grants, these projects will help ensure the sustainability and health of our hardwood forests,” said WERC Director Steve Milauskas. “Additionally, projects created by these grants will make it more economical to harvest lower-value trees and allow us to take better care of our forests.”

Eligible applicants include nonprofit organizations, State and local government agencies, institutions of higher education, tribes, and for-profit organizations. The average grant size is anticipated to be $56,000 and may vary from $10,000 to $80,000. Federal funds must be matched at least one-to-one by the recipient.

Priority will be given to projects that accomplish one or more of the following:
* Maintain the economic competitiveness of primary and secondary hardwood industries.
* Increase knowledge and information about how the hardwood industry can contribute to the green building movement.
* Increase the knowledge, information, and promotion of how carbon sequestration (storage) by wood products can provide a competitive edge to a sustainable hardwood industry.
* Develop technology and markets to address urgent issues on a global or domestic scale, such as sanitizing wood packaging materials and developing markets for unexpected increases in wood volume from pest outbreaks or weather events.
* Increase the sustainable use of woody biomass to meet our Nation’s needs for energy and raw materials.

Completed grant applications are due by February 1, 2011. The application form and instructions are on the WERC Web site. A panel will review and score all proposals based on the evaluation criteria. The review team will forward the highest ranking proposals to the Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry Director for final selection. The Forest Service will notify applicant of the results around May 2, 2011.

The Wood Education and Resource Center is located in Princeton, WVa. It is administered by the U.S. Forest Service Northeastern Area. The Center works with the forest products industry on sustainable forest products production from the eastern hardwood forest region. WERC provides state-of-the-art training, technology transfer, networking opportunities, applied research, and information.

SOURCE: U.S. Forest Service

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