Governor Owens Endorses Report on Front Range Wildfire Risks and Forest Health
On May 18, 2006 during a meeting of The Nature Conservancy’s Colorado Council, Governor Bill Owens endorsed the findings and recommenda- tions in the Front Range Fuels Treatment Partnership Roundtable report, which focuses on community pro- tection and forest health.
“This is exactly the sort of collaborative effort that is necessary if Colorado is to move forward on the chal- lenges of wildfire and forest health,” Owens said. The findings in this report should not be limited to the Front Range, but should serve as a model for other areas. Most forested communities throughout Colorado face simi- lar challenges and the Roundtable’s report offers a real- istic way forward.”
Environmental groups, industry groups, academics, and local, state and federal agencies come together with initiatives to protect communities and restore forest health along Colorado’s Front Range.
The Front Range Fuels Treatment Partnership Roundtable is a precedent-setting consortium of 30 or- ganizations including representatives from environmen- tal organizations, academic and scientific communities, local governments, and federal and state agencies. For the past two years, Roundtable members have worked together to develop a vision and roadmap that addresses the significant and numerous risks and challenges wild- fires pose to Front Range forests, communities, natural resources and human lives.
the work of the Front Range Fuels Treatment Partner- ship, an interagency partnership to reduce wildland fire risks through sustained fuels treatment. The Partnership was formed following the 2002 fire season, the worst in Colorado’s recorded history.
“I can think of no better model to address the needs and concerns of people and nature than what has been done through the Roundtable,” said Jim Bedwell, forest
Roundtable members also have cultivated support for
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TallOil Canada, Inc., a subsidiary of Swedish’s TallOil AB, said that it will build four pellet manufacturing plants in British Columbia. They plan to make pellets from the waste products of mills that are processing the millions of dead trees killed by the massive infestation of moun- tain pine beetle. These pellets will be shipped to Sweden to generate electricity and heat homes and businesses. Sweden is the world’s top producer of pellets with an annual production of 1.36 million tons; followed by Canada with 1 million tons and Russia with 758,000 tons.
The U.S. produces about 600,000 tons but manufac- turers such as New England Wood Pellet are looking to make more. Charlie Neibling, NEWP’s general manager, said there has been a tremendous growth in demand for
pellets. They are building a new plant in upstate New York and a bagging plant in MA for pellets from British Columbia. They expect to bag 1,500 tons per week.
Forest Energy Corp., Show Low, AZ, produces about 70,000 tons per year. They plan on two more plants in Colorado and New Mexico. Rather than using mill waste, Forest Energy is using small-diameter trees removed from the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest under a forest stewardship contract.
“We’ll take 5-inch and smaller trees and tops and grind them all up to make pellets,” said Rob Davis, Forest En- ergy president. “It’s not a by-product- we’re pulling small- diameter material out specifically to make pellets.”
Making pellets can be a profitable enterprise and in some cases can pay for forest health work. “It depends on the work that needs to be done and the conditions on the ground, but as far as our commercial pellets, that we can deliver in bulk, it’s at a point right now that it would pay for itself,” Davis said.