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The project has begun. Work is underway on a woods utilization campus that will bring jobs to Indian Valley. The project is the brainchild of the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment. Photo submitted

Vision for woods utilization campus being realized

Clean-up work starts today at the Brownfields redevelopment site, in Indian Valley, owned by Sierra Institute for Community and Environment. A continuation of last summer’s project, the goal is to complete remediation on the western portion of the property in preparation for development beginning later this season and continuing for the next several years.

Originally a wood mill owned by Louisiana Pacific, the projects below are the first steps in creating a “Woods Utilization Campus,” a vision outlined in the recently released publication Paying for Forest Health: Improving the Economics of Forest Restoration and Biomass Power in California.” Written by Sierra Institute staff Jonathan Kusel, Ph.D., Kyle Rogers and Camille Swezy, this report outlines the ways in which utilizing the by-products of forest management can not only reduce the costs of improving fire and climate resilience, but can be a constructive force for rebuilding disadvantaged rural economies by creating jobs — all while helping the state reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2045.

The first project to follow remediation is construction of a wood chip storage shed that will maintain the dryness of chips for optimal use.

Second is installation of a truck dump, used to unload chips from semi- truck trailers. Both will be in place before fall and the onset of the winter heating needs at the biomass boiler that provides heat and energy to Plumas County’s Health and Human Services building in Quincy.

The chip storage shed and truck dump are crucial improvements to streamline transportation of material from forest restoration projects to Crescent Mills, then for use in the Quincy boiler and — as the network grows — other similarly sized biomass heaters in the area.

Wood products campuses will consist of a variety of businesses that generate value-added products out of small-diameter trees and other woody biomass. Through the development of this site, the Sierra Institute seeks to provide direct benefits to the communities and forests of Plumas County by generating a market for small diameter trees and forest restoration byproducts; ultimately creating a source for local jobs and income while simultaneously facilitating the increased pace and scale of forest restoration activities.

California is facing rising costs for wildfire suppression and enormous expense of rebuilding in the wake of destructive fires. Sierra Institute believes it is imperative that California find ways to improve forest and watershed health quickly and economically and the strategies outlined in its report — and proven on the Indian Valley Wood Products Campus—will address declining forest health, increasing risk of catastrophic wildfire, and poor socioeconomic conditions within a community which historically had a strong timber industry presence.


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