Four U.S. Senators introduced the Community Wood Facilities Assistance Act, legislation to support the development of facilities that make use of low-value timber from wildfire hazardous fuels reduction projects.
The legislation was introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) A companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives earlier.
The Community Wood Facilities Assistance Act would revise the U.S. Forest Service’s Community Wood Energy and Wood Innovations Grant Program by:
- Allowing grants to be used for the construction of new facilities, in addition to making improvements to existing facilities
- Increasing the authorization from $25 million to $50 million
- Increasing the maximum grant per facilities from $1 million to $5 million
- Increasing the federal cost-share from 35 percent to 50 percent
- Increasing maximum size for community wood energy systems eligible for grant funding from 5 megawatts to 15 megawatts
The legislation also would change the program name to the Community Wood Facilities Grant Program to avoid confusion with the similarly named Wood Innovations Grant Program. In addition, the U.S. Forest Service’s Wood Innovations Grant Program would be revised by allowing grants to be used for the construction of new facilities, in addition to making improvements to existing facilities, and reducing the minimum non-federal cost-share from 50 percent to 33 percent.
“Addressing the problem of wildfires requires a multi-faceted approach, including removing some small trees and other hazardous fuel,” said Feinstein. “Congress has provided billions of dollars for this work through the bipartisan infrastructure law and the Inflation Reduction Act. Our legislation will help maintain this momentum by making it easier to develop sustainable wood and energy projects, strengthening our rural economies and making our forests healthier at the same time.”
“The West needs every tool possible to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire,” said Kelly.
“By funding innovative uses of timber left over from forest thinning projects, our bipartisan legislation would support wildfire mitigation and create jobs across northern Arizona.”