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Federal Government Woody Biomass Utilization Roles and Activity

The Department of the Interior (DOI)

The Department of the Interior is the nation’s principal conservation agency, managing 500 million acres of surface land, or about one-fifth of the land in the United States. The DOI role in woody biomass is principally in providing feedstocks from wildfire hazard reduction, forest and woodland restoration, and other land management activities. Experts estimate that about 100 million acres of forest and rangeland managed by the Department of the Interior contain large quantities of brush and small trees that provide fuel for wildfires. Removal of this material could provide enough electricity to supply 400,000 households for a year.

  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM) - Bureau of Land Management, an agency in the Department of the Interior, is responsible for carrying out a variety of programs for the management and conservation of resources on 258 million surface acres, as well as 700 million acres of subsurface mineral estate. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) authorizes the removal of biomass from public lands using stewardship contracting which allows contractors to keep biomass products in exchange for the service of thinning trees and brush, removing dead wood and performing other types of forest and woodland restoration.
  • Selected Department of the Interior Lands (PDF, 1.1 MB) - A map displaying lands administered by the different DOI agencies.
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), National Wildlife Refuge System (Refuge System), continues to support, develop, and implement a Biomass Utilization Strategy. The Refuge System Draft Biomass Utilization Strategy has five general focus areas:
    1. Identify locations within the Refuge System and among Refuge System partners, that focus on refuges for which biomass utilization has been identified as a significant management opportunity.
    2. Ensuring that Refuge System personnel know and understand the "Option for Woody Biomass Utilization in Procurement Contract" policies.
    3. Pursuant to the National Fire Plan, the Refuge System refers appropriate personnel to the internet-based information system developed by the DOI. This website provides technical information about biomass utilization and identifies DOI programs and other federal programs involved in biomass utilization.
    4. The FWS continues to coordinate biomass utilization efforts with the Biomass and Forest Health Program Manager, DOI Office of Wildland Fire Coordination and other agencies and partners, to increase the possibilities and knowledge of biomass utilization.
    5. Identify and rectify management alternatives in Management Plans that may inappropriately impede effective biomass utilization. These efforts will assist Refuge Systems and partners in helping our country meet the needs for alternative energy sources. FWS is committed to taking care of both human and biological communities.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

The USDA provides leadership regarding food, agriculture, natural resources, and related issues to expand markets for agricultural products and support international economic development; further develop alternative markets for agricultural products and activities; provide financing needed to help expand job opportunities, improve housing, utilities and infrastructure in rural America; and, manage and protect America's public and private lands.

  • U.S. Forest Service Woody Biomass Utilization - The Forest Service Woody Biomass Utilization Strategy promotes and guides the removal of woody biomass from agency and partner lands to achieve Forest Service strategic goals, and a variety of critical benefits. The strategy adheres to three guiding principles: pursue sustainability, empower entrepreneurial action, and build on science-based information and new technology. The Strategy contains four major goals: 1) Assure reliable and sustainable supply of biomass from forest lands; 2) Identify and build partnerships through collaboration; 3) Develop and deploy the needed science and technology; and 4) Help develop new and expanded markets for bioenergy and biobased products.
  • USDA Forest Service Research & Development: Emerging Research Areas: Biomass & Bioenergy
  • U.S. Forest Service Stewardship Contracting Training - Stewardship Contracting training resources available on the Forest Service's Stewardship Contracting website.

U.S. Department of Energy Office (DOE)

The two primary goals of the Biomass Program are to (1) reduce dependence on foreign oil and (2) to spur creation of the domestic biomass industry.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) mission is to achieve measurable results in protecting human health and the environment. EPA's five over-arching goals of: Clean Air and Global Climate Change, Clean and Safe Water, Land Preservation and Restoration, Healthy Communities and Ecosystems, and Compliance and Environmental Stewardship all have relevance to the goals of the Woody Biomass Utilization Workgroup. EPA recognizes that optimization of woody biomass management contributes to the production of clean energy, improves water quality, preserves land, protects ecosystems, and encourages environmental stewardship. EPA voluntary programs, (e.g., Combined Heat and Power Partnership, Greenscapes, WasteWise, AgSTAR, Green Power Partnership, Pulp and Paper Sector Strategy, Great American Woodstove Changeout Campaign, Sustainable Futures, and the Green Suppliers Network) encourage woody biomass utilization that leads to clean energy, diversion of waste from landfills, increased energy efficiency, and stewardship of the land resulting in clean water, air, and land.  EPA regulates air and water emissions (including those from technologies capable of converting biomass to useful bioproducts) and conducts research in basic and applied science and technology to assess the environmental impacts of woody biomass conversion technologies and practices.

Interagency Woody Biomass Utilization Group

The Woody Biomass Utilization Group (WBUG) is a federal working group that is open to all agencies and departments who have an interest in working together to encourage the beneficial use of woody biomass, which is typically the by-product of land management activities, commercial activities or other natural events. The Group reports to the Biomass Research and Development Board, established by the Biomass Research and Development Act of 2000, as amended.

Non-federal groups are encouraged to participate in the Group and their Vision. The Annual Work Plan, agreed to by the Group, may include non-federal partners. However, policy and budget recommendations to the Biomass Research and Development Board will only reflect those actions agreed to by the federal participants.

Read more about Woody Biomass Utilization and the WBUG…