Forest Service opens $5 million funding opportunity

By Erin Voegele | November 06, 2014

The U.S. Forest Service has published a notice in the Federal Register seeking proposals for projects that substantially expand and accelerate wood energy and wood products markets throughout the U.S. to support forest management needs. According to the notice, grants and cooperative agreements awarded under the solicitation will support the nationwide challenge of disposing of hazardous fuels and other wood residues from the National Forest System and other forest lands in a manner that supports the wood-to-energy and wood products markets.

The Forest Service expects to award approximately $5 million under the funding opportunity, with maximum awards generally set at $250,000. A 35:65 match is required, meaning the applicant must contribute at least 35 percent of the total project cost from non-federal source funds. Eligible applicants include for-profit entities; state, local and tribal governments; school districts; communities, not-for-profit organizations; and special purpose districts, such as public utilities districts, fire districts, conservation districts or ports.

According to the notice, the Forest Service is seeking proposals that significantly increase or stimulate markets for wood energy and wood products in a manner that has a measureable and meaningful long-term impact on U.S. forest land that nee robust wood supply markets for low-value wood. The request for proposals focuses on three priorities, including the need to reduce hazardous fuels and improve forest health, the need to reduce costs of forest management on all land types, and the need to promote the economic and environmental health of communities.

Funding will be awarded under two categories. The first is a grant category that aims to stimulate, expand or support wood energy markets that depend on forest residues or forest byprodcuts. The Forest Service notes the category is focused on proposals that will generate immediate and measurable on-the-ground results. As such, research-based proposals or those that incorporate technologies that have not been commercially proven will not be competitive. The grant category is further separated into three main project types, including the establishment of statewide energy teams, wood energy projects and wood energy markets.

The second grant category aims to promote markets that create or expand the demand for non-energy-based wood projects. The Forest Serviced indicated preference will be given to projects that support commercial building markets or other markets that use existing or innovative wood products.

Applications are due Jan. 23. Additional information is available on the Federal Register website.