In a good news, bad news sort of story, the USDA announced yesterday that they awarded almost $4.2 million worth of grants to companies who are working to turn woody biomass into affordable, useable fuel. The USDA defines woody biomass as “trees, woody plants, limbs, tops, and needles that are byproducts of ecosystem restoration and hazardous fuel reduction activities in national forests and grasslands.” In other words, a lot of the stuff that falls from trees onto the forest floor and is then considered a fire hazard. The grants go to businesses and groups that can make the conversion process affordable and also those that can find use for “small-diameter trees”.  It’s good that the USDA is paying out to turn this stuff into fuel (ethanol, for example), but forests also need to keep their “waste” as part of their ecosystem. [Source: USDA via Domestic Fuel]

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