Woodcache PBC

Estimating Biomass Availability and Cost when Implementing Forest Restoration with Tethered Harvest Systems

Joshua H Petitmermet, Jeremy S Fried, John Sessions
Journal of Forestry, Mendocino Redwood Company LLC, USDA Forest Service, Oregon State Universtity,
Peer Reviewed: Yes
Year Published: 2019

Key Takeaways:

  • The low value of waste wood substantially inhibits the pace and scale of forest restoration treatments.
  • If buyers capable of turning waste wood into forest projects emerged and were able to pay $50 per bone dry tonne, it would increase the share of forest area treatable at breakeven cost more effectively than treatment subsidies.
  • The authors postulate that the primary constraint on the scope of treatment activity is institutional capacity, not effectiveness or need.
This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Is Forest Fuel Reduction a Sustainable Source of Biomass?


Using an adaptation of Forest Inventory and Analysis’s BioSum framework, which models prospective management of forested landscapes using forest inventory data, we tested several fire-resistance-promoting restoration treatments, implemented with tethered cut-to-length harvest systems, for effectiveness and economic feasibility in the dry national forests of southern Oregon and northern California. Treatments elevated fire resistance on most forested area, primarily via increases in the separation of canopy and surface fuels and among tree crowns, and the most effective treatments could more than cover treatment cost with sales of wood in most stands. If, instead of disposal by burning at the landing, small-diameter wood was delivered to a biochar facility capable of paying US$50 per bone dry ton, this would increase the share of forest area on which treatment could break even from 61 percent to 67 percent, slightly more than the 66 achievable with a treatment subsidy of US$100 ac−1. Potential treatment area appears to be currently constrained by institutional capacity, not treatment effectiveness, economics, opportunity, or need. Even with the currently modest scale of management activity, sufficient biochar feedstock is available in the upper Klamath Basin to supply at least one large-scale biochar facility over the next 20 years.