The U.S. government has announced a major push to extend the innovative uses of wood in various sectors of the economy.
In an announcement on Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will inject more than $43 million (USD) to advocate wood as a construction material.
This includes its use in constructing commercial buildings, as an energy source, and as a manufacturing input for home framing and paper production.
The initiative is part of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.
The funding will support 123 projects across the country. These will be administered through two long-standing Forest Service grant programs:
These programs have already provided over $93 million to 381 recipients since 2015.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack emphasizes the importance of these grant programs, particularly for tribal and disadvantaged rural communities. He said, “By building more sustainably, we can lower wildfire risks, create new markets for excess and hazardous wood, and generate jobs and wealth in rural communities.”
The grant programs will support proposals that focus on expanding and retrofitting wood energy systems and wood product manufacturing facilities.
They will also promote the development of markets for innovative uses of mass timber and renewable wood energy.
The projects funded will help restore forests, reduce wildfire risks, protect communities and infrastructure, and combat climate change.
The grant recipients include a diverse range of entities from for-profit organizations to state and local governments, tribes, school districts, community-based non-profits, higher education institutions, and special purpose districts.
Examples of past recipients
For example, Hat Creek Bioenergy in Burney, California, has been awarded a $1.2 million Community Wood grant to commission a 3-megawatt wood energy facility.
On the other hand, Tahoe Forest Products in Carson City, Nevada, will receive over $300,000 from the Wood Innovations grant program. They will use the funds to reduce fuel on public and private land by commercially milling logs. This will help cleanup and restoration efforts in areas affected by wildfires.
This investment aligns with President Biden’s “Investing in America” agenda. The aim is to stimulate the American economy, attract private-sector manufacturing investments worth over $470 billion, create jobs, and promote clean energy solutions.
These initiatives are part of the Forest Service’s 10-year strategy to tackle the wildfire crisis. By promoting a healthy forest products economy, they hope to source wood from activities that reduce risks, fostering healthy and resilient forests.
For more information on the projects funded under the Wood Innovations and Community Wood grant programs, visit the Forest Science website.