SALEM – Four proposed projects to use woody biomass from area forests to heat northeastern Oregon schools and local government buildings will receive grants totaling $57,250, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) announced this week.

The grant recipients include:

• Wisewood Inc, Grant County

• Integrated Biomass Resources LLC, Wallowa

• Wallowa Resources Community Solutions Inc., Enterprise

• Pine Eagle School District, Halfway

Wisewood Inc. will be awarded $20,000 to determine if it would be more cost-effective for several facilities to upgrade their old fossil fuel heating systems or to convert to biomass systems in Grant County. The buildings include the county courthouse, sheriff's office and jail, and Humbolt and Seneca elementary schools. If the study indicates the conversion would be feasible, 350-400 tons of locally produced biomass pellet fuel would replace the 45,000 gallons of fuel oil consumed annually.

Integrated Biomass Resources LLC (IBR) will receive an $18,500 grant to help fund the design and engineering of manufacturing components for a heat delivery system to provide the most efficient handling, drying and classification of wood chips used for fuel. Consultants will work with IBR staff to identify the equipment and system best suited to process the biomass material that from local forests.

Wallowa Resources Community Solutions Inc. will receive a $9,000 grant to fund a biomass boiler project feasibility study. The city hall and firehouse, which provide offices for a variety of local government functions ranging from the police department to the public library, incur significant annual costs to heat the buildings with an antiquated fuel oil boiler system. The study will determine whether replacing it with a modern biomass boiler system would result in significant savings.

The Pine Eagle School District is getting a $9,750 grant to help construct a biomass heating plant that would serve two and possibly three of the five buildings on the campus. Converting from the existing electric heating system to a biomass system could save 65 to 80 percent in annual energy costs. The district has already made many energy-saving improvements ranging from new windows and doors, to reflective roofing, to increased wall insulation.

The Department of Forestry is providing the federal grant dollars under the Cohesive Wildfire Strategy, an initiative to address the nation's wildfire problems by focusing on three key areas: Restore and Maintain Landscapes, Fire Adapted Communities, and Response to Fire. All four of the northeastern Oregon projects will rely on woody biomass produced from thinning operations on public and private land aimed at restoring forest health and reducing wildfire risk.

"The department is excited to support these innovative efforts. When completed, these projects will increase demand for woody biomass in northeastern Oregon. This new demand will support local folks working in the woods, save energy for local facilities, and support the good work happening in our forests," said Marcus Kauffman, ODF's biomass resource specialist.

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