Location

Logan, UT

Event Website

http://restoringthewest.org/

Streaming Media

Abstract

The increase in western wildfires over recent decades past can be attributed to accumulations of fuels and climate change that dries fuels and extends fire seasons. Silvicultural designed to reduce fuels while restoring other desirable conditions and providing a range of ecosystem services is an effective strategy for mitigating climate change. Fuel reduction treatments at a scale large enough to modify wildfire behavior will produce not only substantial quantities of wood to make consumer products and substitute for fossil energy but also additions to the workforce that will help revitalize rural economies. Forests also play a key role in the global carbon cycle by capturing, storing, and cycling carbon, functions that can be enhanced by active management. In addition to federal energy policy ambiguity (discussed earlier in “Towards a Cohesive Federal Policy for Wood Bionergy”) regulatory uncertainty for biomass energy production arises from the “carbon neutrality” debate about accounting for “biogenic” greenhouse gas emissions. A narrow focus on Clean Air Act implementation may overlook the carbon balance effect of sustainable forest management. Biomass utilization faces two economic challenges; neither is insurmountable. First, high costs of harvesting and transporting low-value biomass can be reduced with public subsidies. Benefits from avoided costs of wildfire suppression and site rehabilitation may exceed fuel treatment costs and create a rationale for subsidies. A policy choice is whether the subsidy should be merchantable timber, cash payments, or tax credits. The second challenge is long-term supply. Unless entrepreneurs can demonstrate reliable biomass supplies for 10 or 20 years, private capital is unlikely. On federal lands biomass supply planning is problematic, as are long-term contract mechanisms. Changes in agency policies could improve both problems. Large-scale restoration treatments in the short term provide a “triple win”: improved forest conditions, renewable energy feedstocks, and revitalized rural communities. The reduction of carbon emissions from burning wood in a boiler to make energy instead of open burning, whether in wildfires or slash piles, is a bonus. The long-term payoff from large-scale restoration treatments will be enhanced energy security, along with other benefits to society that ought to be mentioned in the same breath as treatment cost

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Oct 19th, 12:00 AM

The Forestry/Bioenergy/Carbon Connection

Logan, UT

The increase in western wildfires over recent decades past can be attributed to accumulations of fuels and climate change that dries fuels and extends fire seasons. Silvicultural designed to reduce fuels while restoring other desirable conditions and providing a range of ecosystem services is an effective strategy for mitigating climate change. Fuel reduction treatments at a scale large enough to modify wildfire behavior will produce not only substantial quantities of wood to make consumer products and substitute for fossil energy but also additions to the workforce that will help revitalize rural economies. Forests also play a key role in the global carbon cycle by capturing, storing, and cycling carbon, functions that can be enhanced by active management. In addition to federal energy policy ambiguity (discussed earlier in “Towards a Cohesive Federal Policy for Wood Bionergy”) regulatory uncertainty for biomass energy production arises from the “carbon neutrality” debate about accounting for “biogenic” greenhouse gas emissions. A narrow focus on Clean Air Act implementation may overlook the carbon balance effect of sustainable forest management. Biomass utilization faces two economic challenges; neither is insurmountable. First, high costs of harvesting and transporting low-value biomass can be reduced with public subsidies. Benefits from avoided costs of wildfire suppression and site rehabilitation may exceed fuel treatment costs and create a rationale for subsidies. A policy choice is whether the subsidy should be merchantable timber, cash payments, or tax credits. The second challenge is long-term supply. Unless entrepreneurs can demonstrate reliable biomass supplies for 10 or 20 years, private capital is unlikely. On federal lands biomass supply planning is problematic, as are long-term contract mechanisms. Changes in agency policies could improve both problems. Large-scale restoration treatments in the short term provide a “triple win”: improved forest conditions, renewable energy feedstocks, and revitalized rural communities. The reduction of carbon emissions from burning wood in a boiler to make energy instead of open burning, whether in wildfires or slash piles, is a bonus. The long-term payoff from large-scale restoration treatments will be enhanced energy security, along with other benefits to society that ought to be mentioned in the same breath as treatment cost

http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/rtw/2011/Plenary2/4