Our Parent Organization: UP RC&D - The BURN-UP Project was initiated by, and is administered by, the Upper Peninsula Resource Conservation and Development Council (UP RC&D), a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Strength in Diversity - The development of a sustainable woody biomass industry in the UP will involve the active involvement of a wide variety of public and private organizations, each with its own purpose and perspective. Such diversity is needed because there are many niches to be filled in the emerging bio-economy, and the more approaches taken the better the chances are of good solutions being found.
We should not only use the brains we have, but all that we can borrow.
- Thomas Woodrow Wilson -
Strength in Cooperation - However, because there are complex interdependencies among many of the niches in the biomass network, communication and cooperation among the diverse players is needed to avoid unnecessary conflicts and to facilitate mutually beneficial relationships.
Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
- Helen Adams Keller -
PERSPECTIVES on the WOODY BIOMASS SCENE in the UP
The BURN-UP partners represent a cross-section of stakeholders in the rapidly growing arena of woody biomass production and utilization in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. They include federal, state, and local agencies, forest industry companies, and environmental groups. We are grateful for the input we are receiving from these groups and are always open to participation from others. Following are brief statements on the current status of, and future prospects for, woody biomass management in the UP from the perspectives of some of our partners. What's your perspective? Send us an email, and we will post your views here.
Dave Andersen (Schoolcraft County Extension Director):
I believe there is potential to expand the number of institutional entities utilizing wood chips for a heating source. As I stated yesterday, I believe this needs to be an additional product coming from the forest, rather than the principle product. I'm not sure we will see a significant number of combined heat and power generating situations in the short run as our electrical energy is a bargain. As far as ethanol production I feel there is not enough return on investment to make it a significant player. I do think bio-diesel has potential even for the Upper Peninsula as the technology is quite simple, the necessary crops will grow here, and is relatively cheap to produce. I currently have a farmer who produces most of the diesel he uses on his farm. It isn't rocket science. However, the forest is not going to provide the raw material for this product.
Bill Cook (MSU Extension Forester/Biologist):
The U.P. sits in a huge wood basket with ever-increasing stocks of wood fiber. It would seem that we can somehow figure out how to use this immense asset in ways to better contribute to energy independence and rural development.
Robert Froese (Assistant Professor of Forestry, Michigan Tech):
A colleague said recently that "fossil energy will run out eventually; bioenergy is coming and it's only a matter of when." That's reason enough to try to get started with vigour, but looking around the UP one can see the opportunity not effectively utilized at the moment. Our forests are under-utilized as is, especially given harvest rates are only 1/3 of current growth. Dead trees and logging slash are going back to the atmosphere, no matter what; why not run them through a boiler along the way, and reap the energy benefit? We need to know precisely how much there is, where it is, when it's available and at what cost, though. Let's get to it.
James F. Gries (Soil Scientist/Landscape Ecologist/Watershed Program Manager, Hiawatha National Forest):
We have a largely untapped resource which has the potential to provide needed energy and resources to the area. We need to ensure that we are able to use this resource in a sustainable way, without impacting long term soil productivity, ecosystem integrity, and species diversity while still being economically viable. I believe it is possible to meet these goals through appropriate management and working together to find solutions.
Shawn Hagan (Sr. Director of Forest Operations, Great Lakes Region, The Forestland Group, LLC):
Current woody biomass utilization in the UP is well below its' potential. Today's utilization direct from the woods is often tied to clear cutting practices, leaving a site that looks raw, treeless and arguably less diverse than the forest once present. Strides are being made to push utilization into thinning regimes, but residual damage, added compaction of soils, large chipping or grinding locations are limiting wide acceptance of this practice. Future opportunities are great, but we must overcome the shortfalls of current practices. In hardwood thinnings, determining a cost effective means of utilization in a fashion that protects the residual, minimizes added landing space, and maintains the ecological attributes of a healthy, diverse forest, will lead to much wider acceptance in utilization of woody biomass. BMP's, certification requirements and price for woody biomass will also direct the intensity and acceptance of utilization moving forward.
Tina Hall (Director of Conservation programs, The Nature Conservancy):
Woody biomass is an interesting new energy source for the UP. Rural areas in particular may benefit from this fuel. However, as in all new sources of fuel a comprehensive understanding of the impacts of harvesting the fuel and the impacts of burning the fuel need to be understood and thoughtful guidelines created and standards made for the harvest and sustainability of the fuel.
Don Howlett (Partnership Coordinator, Hiawatha National Forest):
Woody biomass utilization provides a welcome opportunity in the UP and elsewhere to utilize previously non-merchantable materials, improve stand conditions, enhance forest health, and provide other ecological benefits, while diversifying and strengthening our economy. Woody biomass utilization needs to be implemented wisely, however, without impairing the long-term productivity and sustainability of our forests.
Dean I. Reid (Certified Forester of D & S Forestry Services Co.):
My interest in woody biomass has developed over the last few years because of the poor markets for low quality pulpwood due to several mill closings in MI and WI and especially the wood market east of I-75 in the U.P. During the development of a new 'Master Plan' for Mackinac County in 2006 and as a member of the county Planning Commission, I was able to get the following 2 objectives in under the Economic Development section: 'developing markets in the EUP for low quality pulpwood products ( i.e. bio-energy . .' and 'investigate development and locations for alternative energy facilities.' My wife and I attended a 3 day conference in Jan. '07 on "Harvest Clean Energy" in Boise, ID with interest in biomass, fuel for schools, bio-fuels and wind energy. After that conference I talked with a manager of an industrial firm about the possibility of their interest in a 10 MW wood co-gen plant being sited on their property for their electrical supply and the surplus being sold on the transmission system. He expressed interest and we have even looked at an on-site location. Since then the Planning Commission has had American Transmission Co. (ATC) and Edison Sault Electric Co. in to discuss their short and long range plans. Both were asked about adding bio-energy facilities to the electric grid in the EUP. ATC indicated that an engineering study would have to be done on the ability of the aging transmission line to carry any new amount of electricity added to the grid and could cost between $15-20,000. Present wood co-gen plants in MI are only about 20% efficient because their heat is wasted. Future co-gen plants need to produce more than electricity, which I am presently investigating. Recently in January, I attended another "Harvest Clean Energy" conference in Portland, OR to get additional ideas for renewable energy of woody biomass and wind. I may be looking for investors in the future.
Dave Silveus (District Ranger, Rapid River/Manistique District, Hiawatha National Forest):
The National Forests have an imprortant role in providing woody biomass to help with our local and regional energy needs and to provide local economic benefits. In some situations the utilization of woody biomass can also reduce hazardous fuel concentrations and assist in thinning overstocked timber stands.
This page last updated on 3/17/2008.