First, we need to look at forest biomass as a renewable, clean energy source. Burning those doghair thickets of pine will release the same CO2 whether in a wildfire that threatens life and property, or in a smokestack with catalytic scrubbers and electric/heat generation. Second, we need to weigh the cost of fighting those wildfires versus the cost of thinning and hauling ladder fuels STRATEGICALLY within 100’ of existing forest roads (creating fuel breaks while minimizing expense and ecological damage). We typically say it is too expensive to haul biomass, but when we examine the larger economic balance it seems much more feasible. Additionally, biomass harvesting would create jobs in rural communities. Third, we need to develop markets and technology to support biomass use. There is already a way to produce wood-chip pucks that can be burned in coal-fire plants. Can we replace oil furnaces with pellet stoves? Can we invent mobile mills that follow the harvest contracts? Can we offset dependence on coal, nuclear power, and even petroleum while simultaneously reducing the hazardous fuel build-up in our forests?
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