Forest Service to award $7 million under Wood Innovations program

By Erin Voegele | October 19, 2017

The U.S. Forest Service has opened a funding opportunity for projects that expand wood products and wood energy markets, especially in areas with high wildfire risk. The announcement was made on National Bioenergy Day, Oct. 18.

The grants will be provided through the Wood Innovations program, which aims to reduce hazardous fuels and improve forest health while creating jobs. In 2018, the program is set to make up to $7 million available for projects designed to have a long-term impact on forest lands by leveraging the market for low-value wood. Funding can be used to support a wide range of activities, including engineering studies, cost analyses and permitting. Funding can also be used to support business planning and efforts to accelerate the manufacturing, market adoption, and demonstration of innovative wood products.

According to information published by the Forest Service, funding will be offered under two grant categories. The first focuses on the expansion of wood energy markets and wood energy projects. The second focuses on the expansion of wood product markets, which focuses on non-energy based wood products.

The Forest Service said individual awards are generally limited to $250,000. However, larger awards may be given to proposals that show significant impact, such as those that closely align with program goals and yield significant hazardous fuels reduction in a timely manner. Applicants must contribute at least 50 percent of the Forest Service requested funds. Matching funds must come from non-federal sources.

Since 2005, the Forest Service said almost 280 grants have been awarded to small businesses, non-profits, institutions of higher education, tribes, states, and local governments to improve forest health while creating jobs, renewable energy and healthy communities. Since 2013, this funding has also helped establish 22 Statewide Wood Energy Teams and eight Statewide Wood Utilization Teams that collectively expand and support wood energy and wood products markets.

Applications are due Jan. 22. The Forest Service is expected to made award announcements in April, and issue awards in July. Additional information is available on the Wood Innovations Grants website.