Washington's forest floors may supply biomass for energy needs

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by GLENN FARLEY / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @GlennFarley

KING5.com

Posted on April 5, 2012 at 3:37 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 5 at 6:42 PM

SEATTLE - The Washington Department of Natural Resources is studying turning forest biomass, the brush that litters the forest floor, into energy.

DNR along with the University of Washington recently completed a study which finds that there's enough biomass on the forest floor to turn into jet fuel and other types of energy.

Read more about the DNR's biomass study -- click here

Every year in Washington, the timber industry leaves behind millions of tons of slash -- branches, and skinny parts of trees that are not viable as products. It's raked together in piles and for decades loggers burned it. There's also natural brush and that DNR wants removed because it helps wildfires spread easily.

DNR proposes to keep about a third of the biomass untouched in order to protect wildlife and the forest's food web in tact.

But biomass is controversial. In Port Angeles, environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club are raising health questions about burning biomass in a so called co-generation plant.

Other organizations including the Washington Forest Law Center worry that industrial demands could grow dramatically.

 

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