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University of Montana College of Forestry Gets $1 Million Grant [AUDIO]

forest harvest
photo courtesy of University of Montana

This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it has awarded nearly $1 million to the University of Montana College of Forestry and Conservation to study the use of insect-killed trees for bio-energy.

The research funds is part of a $10 million grant by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Dean of the UM College of Forestry and Conservation Jim Burchfield said on Thursday, November 7, that this particular grant is being used to study how to make bio-fuels out of normally wasted forest products.

“Bio-energy, I think, has become particularly important in terms of our ability to supply our energy needs from renewable sources, and not just from fossil fuels, and those are trees,” Burchfield said. “Here in the western United States, we have a lot of trees that have been cut down because of fire suppression, and we have the opportunity to utilize those trees for energy. But the challenges come when we have to move those trees to the plant, and that’s where we come in.”

Burchfield said a member of the forestry school faculty will play a key role in the research.

“One of our outstanding faculty, Dr. Woodham Chung, has the ability to analyze how to most efficiently move those fuels from the forest to the production destination,” Burchfield said. “He is going to be looking at all the variables that exist between getting the fuels off the forest floor to the production facility. He’ll be looking at research sites in Montana and Idaho to understand what ways you could remove those fuels from forests, and then translate that into energy.”

Burchfield said the project will begin in the next few months.

“Well, we were just awarded the grant,” Burchfield said. “It takes a little time to get geared up, but I imagine by the first of the year we’re going to be cranking.”

Burchfield said more information on the project is available on the University of Montana College of Forestry and Conservation website.

Dean of the UM College of Forestry and Conservation Jim Burchfield:

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