WASHINGTON D.C. - The U.S. Forest Service has awarded $13.4 million to two Colorado companies, Confluence Energy of Kremmling and West Range Reclamation of Hotchkiss, to clear beetled-killed trees from the White River and Medicine Bow-Routt national forests. Some of that timber will be used at a new electricity-generation facility in Gypsum. The two contracts are expected to treat at least 20,000 acres in the two national forests.
"These stewardship contracts will create jobs in rural communities and bolster Colorado's economy while also reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire and helping restore the ecological health of our forests," Colorado Senator Mark Udall said. "As we saw this summer, wildfires are unfortunately growing bigger and more intense each year. These contracts are excellent examples of the private sector turning the problem of the bark beetle epidemic into profit while also improving public safety, protecting our water supplies, and reducing the risk these fires pose to Colorado communities and those living in the wildland-urban interface zones."
Under the contracts:
West Range Reclamation of Hotchkiss will receive $8.66 million to remove trees susceptible to insect and disease infestations from parts of the White River National Forest. The company plans to partner with Eagle Valley Clean Energy and provide fuel to its planned 11.5 megawatt woody biomass-fueled power plant in Gypsum. The electricity generated from the plant will be supplied to Holy Cross Energy.
Confluence Energy will receive $4.75 million to remove beetle-killed trees in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. In areas where the trees have commercial value for products such as lumber, wood pellets and other biomass products, Confluence Energy will pay for that material to offset the cost to the government of the other forest health treatments.
"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.