Refuge Hosts Biomass Project with Multiple Benefits
Fire Managers at the Mid-Columbia National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Washington and Oregon have initiated a new mutually beneficial relationship with the Boise Cascade Corporation to remove and use biomass from the refuges which comprise the complex.
Beginning in June, contractors removed over 185 piles of hazardous and unnatural fuel accumulations from areas of the refuge to be taken to a Boise Cascade mill for use in the facility to supplement the burning of natural gas in the drying process for their paper products. With the rise in natural gas costs, Boise Cascade determined that they could reduce their costs if they burned biomass instead of gas to kiln dry their products. The biomass is made up of mostly Russian olive, which is an invasive species for the area, and dead cottonwood trees which create a hazard. The removal of both Russian olive and the cottonwood debris has both reduced the risk of fire to private property directly adjacent to the refuge and helped to enhance wildlife habitat for species looking for cover and forage.
“We are really excited about what this could mean for future projects,” said complex Fire Management Officer Chris Schulte. “Our refuge managers, biologists, and fire staff are busy identifying other opportunities to work with Boise Cascade to eliminate further biomass.”
The mill site that is utilizing the biomass is less than 50 miles from the sites that have been treated additionally keeping costs down. Over 300 acres have been treated on the complex to date.
Heavy equipment grinds biomass at the Mid Columbia National Wildlife Comples in Washinton to be loaded in a truck and hauled to a mill for use in the likn drying process to make paper. Chris Shulte, USFWS
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