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A Case for Increasing Forest Biomass Utilization Research in Colorado

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Colorado's forests are being squeezed by two intense, seemingly relentless, and largely antagonistic forces. The first force is the increasing pressure from within the forest due to dense, overgrown stands. The second force is the increasing pressures from increasing human populations exogenous to the forests. One way to improve forest health and reduce risks to humans at the same time is to remove materials in the form of forest biomass from the forest through hazardous fuels reduction projects. Forest biomass can be used in a variety of products, but because of low profit margins, forest biomass is used for energy purposes only when no other product is possible. However, because of recent policy enactments, energy uses are becoming more attractive. These recent policy enactments are briefly discussed. Then, potential forest biomass uses are considered, including electricity generation, thermal applications, and the production of second-generation liquid biofuels. Recommendations are made for uses that stand the best chance of restoring forest health, reducing fire risk to homes, providing a renewable alternative to fossil fuels, and reducing the costs of doing so to taxpayers.

Keywords: cellulosic ethanol; facility heating; forest restoration; liquid fuels; power generation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Western Journal of Applied Forestry covers the western United States, including Alaska, and western Canada; WJAF will also consider manuscripts reporting research in northern Mexico that has potential application in the southwestern United States.
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