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U.S. EPA’s Brownfield Grant Writing Workshop presenters are, from left, James Bedison from Langan consultants, Crista Stewart from Elk Valley Rancheria, Camille Swezy from the Sierra Institute, and Noemi Emeric-Ford from U.S. EPA.

Indian Valley project featured at Brownfields Conference

Effectively telling the story of a “brownfields” project was the focus of Camille Swezy’s presentation to the California Land Recycling Conference on Oct. 25 in Carson. Photos submitted

California’s first conference focused on “brownfield” sites put a spotlight on environmental work being done by cities, counties, and nonprofit organizations all over California.

Brownfields are properties that are contaminated by pollution, preventing them from being used to their best potential.

Plumas County was featured in a panel discussion about successful grant writing, and Camille Swezy from the Sierra Institute shared her experience in winning grants to complete soil and groundwater investigations at the former Crescent Mills sawmill site.

To advance groundbreaking work in developing new ways to use forest biomass to produce clean energy, Swezy and the Sierra Institute team raised millions of dollars to fund construction and engineering for the pilot scale biomass facility in Quincy, while also working toward developing the Crescent Mills site to serve as a wood processing facility.

“Telling a compelling story about the project and why it’s important to Indian Valley and to our region was key in our grant writing process,” Swezy commented in the panel discussion.

She wanted to show that cleaning up the sawmill in Crescent Mills would allow the Sierra Institute to position it for more than just wood chipping; it would also make the property much more attractive to other industrial and wood-related businesses. Swezy is focused on the long-term social, economic and environmental benefits of re-using old industrial sites for new projects.

Swezy has been working at the Sierra Institute since 2014 and enjoys the challenge of being a project manager.

“It requires so many different skills, including a technical understanding of biomass energy,” she said. “But just as important is the need to communicate clearly with government leaders and community members and to be creative in finding funding from grants to help get the project off the ground.”

The California Center for Land Recycling hosted the conference along with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and U.S. EPA. Learn more about the Sierra Institute’s wood utilization project at sierrainstitute.us.

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