Colorado companies receive federal contracts to improve national forests

Contracts focus on trees affected by beetle kill in Medicine Bow, White River forests

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“Active management of our multiple use national forest acreage in Colorado is vital as we confront the bark beetle epidemic and grow our forest products industries. After a summer of devastating wildfires, there’s an even greater urgency to ensure that our forests are healthy and resilient.”

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., about two Colorado companies receiving U.S. Forest Service contracts to improve forest health.

Two Colorado companies have been awarded United States Forest Service stewardship contracts to improve the health of forests in Colorado and Wyoming.

The contracts, announced Monday by the United States Department of Agriculture, total $13.4 million, and were awarded to Confluence Energy of Kremmling and West Range Reclamation of Hotchkiss.

The money will be used to remove trees affected by mountain pine beetle on 20,000 acres of the Medicine Bow—Routt and the White River national forests in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming.

“Active management of our multiple use national forest acreage in Colorado is vital as we confront the bark beetle epidemic and grow our forest products industries,” said Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., in a news release. “After a summer of devastating wildfires, there’s an even greater urgency to ensure that our forests are healthy and resilient.

“These stewardship contracts will bring new jobs to the state, create a healthier forest for the surrounding communities, reduce wildfire risk and help generate a new source of renewable energy.”

Confluence Energy received the long-term stewardship contract for the Medicine Bow—Routt National Forest for $4.75 million over 10 years.

Confluence Energy will pay for materials in areas where the trees have commercial value for wood products to offset costs to the federal government, according to the release.

“The Confluence Energy team is excited and looks forward to working with the (U.S.) Forest Service to manage the Medicine Bow—Routt project,” said Betty Straub of Confluence Energy in the release. “We are confident in our ability to utilize the unwanted material for clean energy and high value purposes.”

West Range Reclamation received $8.66 million over 10 years for its long-term stewardship contract in the White River National Forest.

The contract focuses on the removal of tree species susceptible to insect and disease infestation, including lodgepole pine, subalpine fir, Douglas fir, Engelmann spruce, aspen, and ponderosa pine, the release states.

West Range Reclamation has partnered with Eagle Valley Clean Energy to develop an environmentally sound use for the dead and small diameter trees that will be removed during fuels reduction operations, according to the release.

“This contract realizes an opportunity for us to achieve critical landscape restoration on the White River National Forest,” said Scott Fitzwilliams, White River Forest supervisor, in the release. “It also continues our legacy of sustainable use for wood products — from saw logs to biomass — for renewable energy.”

Eagle Valley Clean Energy will use the dead and small diameter trees removed from the White River National Forest to fuel its planned 11.5-megawatt, biomass-fueled power plant in Gypsum, according to a release issued by Sen. Mark Udall’s, D-Colo., office.

Electricity generated by the plant will power 8,000 to 10,000 homes in Parachute, Vail, Glenwood Springs and Aspen.

“The stewardship contracts are especially exciting because it will add to Colorado’s balance of clean, renewable energy by supporting biomass energy — electricity and heat for Eagle Valley Clean Energy in Gypsum and wood pellets for clean and efficient heating at Confluence Energy in Kremmling,” Udall said in the release.

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