Forest Thinning To Reduce Wildfire Risk Gives Opportunity To New Startups

Environment: NPR
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As the risk of wildfire grows scientists say the us needs to aggressively thin out overgrown forests. That's expensive and it can create massive piles of worthless brush and branches san brash colorado public radio reports some businesses. See a new market. If there's a piece of wood out there james gaspard will probably take it to waste. Would dead trees char trees gaspard owns bio char now in berthod colorado. At the company's main location we watched cranes load beetle logs into a shredder. Conveyor belt then spits the chunks into rusty metal counts. Killed is taking eleven cubic yards of shredded trees and we're converting it into carbon in a vacuum environment. The burning process creates something called bio char a carbon rich charcoal that helps soil retain water and nutrients. Gaspard says colorado's legal cannabis. Industry loves stuff for its plants. But lately fires have come up with all sorts of other uses. Animal feed cat litter even. So we're gonna market for the stuff that had no market many foresters c. entrepreneurs light gas barred as essential to confronting a new era of massive wildfires tomb raider works with the colorado state forest service. He says millions of acres across the state need treatment. But it'd be expensive just to treat ten percent of our landscape. It's the most pro to fire. Occurrence costs four billion dollars and that's just in colorado tens of millions more acres need work across the west. According to federal estimates reader says the traditional timber industry often isn't interested in helping pay for those projects because they don't produce the best would it's typically coming from these really dense areas of forest so they typically very small bent stam's crooked basically not a form of the log that's conducive to processing into a solid product but some companies aren't deterred by those quirks golden west pine mills in all colorado. Andy sized trees from a fire mitigation project. These boards will become the backing for taxidermied animal heads inside his shop. Hines has bigger ambitions. I guess you might say we're all the magic happens in here. Hines is at work on an assembly line to woodside gluing narrow pieces into broader panels the areas that we log just give so many small diameter trees and people still want wide material. The federal government has grants to help companies develop these sorts alternative wood. Products hines has applied for one past recipients. Have won money to turn wood into biofuel. Burn it for electricity. Even make it into beams. Strong enough for skyscrapers. The list is fascinating but experts warn. Western forest need more than scrap wood startups. We also have to recognize that. There's a need for public investment. This is courtney schultz a four scientist at colorado state university. When it comes to fuel reduction she says the challenge is often just capacity. Neither the forest service nor the timber industry has enough resources. We need to start thinking about wood products as a co benefit. That will work in some places but it's not going to be answered or problems in other words. Private companies can't fix western forests on their own. She's glad some members of congress want to spend billions to make communities and woodland's more fire resistant npr news. I'm sam brash

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