NE CA Cal FRAME Partnership
Bioenergy Cluster Project
Despite an excessive amount of dead trees, brush and small diameter wood that needs to be removed from California’s forests, existing and proposed wood waste utilization projects face a significant challenge when it comes to demonstrating sufficient and long-term access to woody feedstock sources. There are several reasons why a feedstock agreement is difficult to obtain: (1) volatile markets, (2) declining USFS budgets and staffing capacity, (3) the low value of biomass as compared to its high transportation costs, and (4) administrative challenges of contract management. All these factors lead to the vexing reality that while feedstock agreements are a necessary component to securing a financial package for new wood product businesses, they are difficult to obtain. Without a minimum contract term of ten years, many lenders and investors deem wood products and bioenergy projects too risky.
In response to this challenge, a new concept was proposed and has since been the subject of several
convening workgroups over the last several years to improve forest supply chain logistics, including: (1) the Forest Management Task Force (FMTF) REDS WUG Removing Barriers Committee and (2) the Joint Institute for Wood Products Innovation (JIPWI) Biofuels Feedstock subgroup. The Forest Biofuels Working Group, specifically, engaged 50 experts throughout the state to promote policy and market development of forest biofuels (Sanchez et al 2022). They recommended to establish and support new flexible, public regional entities to overcome barriers to long-term forest biomass feedstock supply.
More recently referred to as the California Forest Residual Aggregation for Market Enhancement (Cal
FRAME) model, the concept proposes to centralize an efficient biomass removal and utilization process for forest health projects using a new and transparent inter-governmental framework. This process will bundle feedstock agreements for wood-based businesses to secure reliable, long term feedstock supply while providing an economically viable outlet for forest health and fuel reduction projects in California’s forests.
The Bioenergy Cluster Project is the proposed plan to create 3 small scale community based bioenergy facilities. The facilities would be less than 5MW in size and able to participate in renewable energy incentive programs. The project would sustainably harvest 90,000 bone dry tons of biomass per year from both public and private land. Over a twenty year period the project would restore over 14,000 acres.
Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program
The purpose of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program is to encourage the collaborative, science-based ecosystem restoration of priority forest landscapes and:
encourage ecological, economic, and social sustainability;
leverage local resources with national and private resources;
facilitate the reduction of wildfire management costs, including through re-establishing natural fire regimes and reducing the risk of uncharacteristic wildfire;
demonstrate the degree to which various ecological restoration techniques achieve ecological and watershed health objectives; and,
encourage utilization of forest restoration by-products to offset treatment costs, to benefit local rural economies, to and improve forest health.
California Climate Investment
The USFS and Pit RCD have identified multiple restoration opportunities on public and private lands to make increase forest resilience, accelerate reforestation of severely burned forests, and reduce the risk of future catastrophic fire impacts to both communities and natural resources. Forest thinning through the diameter class and other fuel treatments (e.g. mastication, prescribed fire) would be used to reduce forest biomass and surface fuels in order to reduce the risk of catastrophic fire. This reduction would help to protect tree-based carbon stocks, improve growth rates and carbon uptake of residual trees, and minimize greenhouse gas released in the instance of wildfire.