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N.C. Cooperative Extension to hold woody biomass workshop

By By Glenn Woolard
Posted Monday, September 22, 2008

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Pittsboro, NC - With demand for fuel wood rising as the biomass energy market expands, North Carolina’s family woodland owners are well-placed to enhance their assets, reduce overhead, and maybe even turn a profit. To educate landowners, N.C. Cooperative Extension is holding free dinner programs across the state. Co-sponsors include the state’s Division of Forest Resources and the U.S. Forest Service.

The woody biomass meeting and supper nearest Chatham County will be held on Monday, October 6, at 6:30 pm, at the Alamance County Extension Center in Burlington. The program is free, but registration is required. Call Mark Danieley, Agricultural Agent in Alamance County, at (336) 570-6740 by Monday, September 29, to register. For transportation from the Chatham County Extension Center in Pittsboro call Glenn Woolard, County Extension Director, at 542-8202.

Every woodland produces so-called “trash trees” or low-value trees – tree species that are not in high demand for construction or furniture markets. But rising needs for wood-fueled energy by utilities and manufacturers, and the increase in facilities that use wood for heat, have increased the value of these trees.

According to Robert Bardon, Forestry Department Extension leader and associate professor at N.C. State University, “The biomass energy markets are just getting started, but we want the state’s landowners to be prepared to take advantage of the economic opportunities ahead. The result will be good for individual landowners, forest health, and safety.”

Proper woodland management to harvest trees, preserve wildlife, reduce forest fire risk and reduce disease, pests, and invasive species has always required harvesting the low-value trees. But now landowners may receive more value or reduce management overhead as energy markets grow.

“Anything landowners can do to reduce the risk of forest fires increases safety. Harvesting for biomass also reduces pests, disease and invasive species. Healthier forests are less apt to burn, so we welcome the recent incentives for proper forest management,” advised Brian Haines, spokesperson for the N.C. Division of Forest Resources.

Landowners attending the session will receive the latest news and research on recent policy changes, emerging biomass markets, best practices for biomass harvesting, and tips on choosing reputable contractors.

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