USDA grants intended to boost wood-to-fuel markets

The Forest Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced some $13 million in new funding opportunities to support market innovation in wood products and wood energy.

The announcement by USDA Deputy Secretary Dr. Jewel Bronaugh indicates some of the funds will go toward the mass timber construction sector, but other portions will ideally “strengthen emerging wood energy markets that support sustainable forest management – particularly in areas of high wildfire risk.”

The USDA Forest Service is now accepting applications for the funds through the 2022 Wood Innovations Grant Program and the 2022 Community Wood Grant Program. The application period for both grant programs closes Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022.

“Healthy and productive markets for wood products and wood energy are integral to supporting sustainable forest management and improving the condition of our national forests,” says Bronaugh.

The Community Wood Grant Program can provide funds toward the cost of installing wood energy systems. Grants awarded under the Wood Innovations Program address the nationwide challenge of reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires, disease, and pest infestations by retaining or by expanding existing markets for excess biomass and low-value logs removed during forest management activities, according to the Forest Service.

“The material removed supports both new and traditional markets, as well as local economic development,” adds the agency.