Mineral Challenge helps Tricon, USFS win $5.3 million grant

Clark Fork Chronicle – A Montana business is teaming up with the U.S. Forest Service to create jobs and renewable energy from biomass, thanks to a grant announced today by U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester.

The Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station in Missoula is working with Tricon Timber in St. Regis to commercialize cutting edge technologies that use biomass — such as small trees and wood chips — to create heat, electricity and biochar, a charcoal that sequesters and carbon and is used as a soil amendment.

The collaboration resulted from the Mineral County Challenge, a community initiative to develop sustainable economic development projects. The Rocky Mountain Research Station and Tricon will work develop a modular 20-dry ton per day, high-temperature gasification system at the mill.

Baucus and Tester recently cosponsored legislation to create a loan guarantee program to develop technology that creates biochar from public lands.

Biomass development is also a key component in Tester’s landmark Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.

“Expanding home-grown energy resources like biomass and biochar is a responsible investment for Montana because we’ll create good paying jobs while making the most of the dead trees throughout western Montana,” Tester said. “The potential for turning the pine beetle epidemic into something that can help get our country more energy independent is something I’m proud to support.”

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