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Placer Sentinel

Placer awarded $2M grant to develop biomass facility in the North Tahoe region, aiming to reduce wildfire risks and improve forest management practices

Dec 21, 2022 12:00AM ● By Placer County News Release

(AUBURN, CA) -- Placer County has been awarded $2 million in grant funding made possible by CAL FIRE to develop the Cabin Creek biomass facility in North Lake Tahoe.

“Thank you, CAL FIRE. Keeping our Tahoe forest safe and healthy is paramount,” said Placer County Board of Supervisors Chair and District 5 Supervisor Cindy Gustafson. “This funding gets us closer to our goal, which can’t happen soon enough.”

Biomass facilities can create renewable energy by burning wood scraps left over from forestry operations or residential defensible space clearing, helping remove a hazardous source of fuel for wildfires. They also generate heat and a byproduct called biochar that could be used as fertilizer and in water filtration processes.

A plan for a biomass facility at the county’s Cabin Creek property near Truckee was approved for a conditional use permit in 2012 and the Board of Supervisors renewed their commitment to exploring the feasibility of a facility at the site earlier this year.

Currently, public agencies employ various tactics to reduce wood scraps left on the ground during routine healthy forest maintenance, including open pile burning. This is necessary to reduce fuel loads, especially in the absence of a regional biomass facility, but can create temporary smoky conditions, and also releases carbon into the atmosphere.

Biomass facilities on the other hand can trap carbon and other pollutants, helping agencies reduce even more fuel loads, which decreases the risk of wildfire and is better for the environment.

A recent study, conducted by the North Tahoe Truckee Biomass Task Force with funding from the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation and its member agencies, also affirmed the need for additional biomass facilities in the region.

This work helped secure the Cabin Creek grant as well as a $2 million grant for the Northstar Community Services District, which is located between Truckee and Lake Tahoe, to develop its own small biomass facility. 

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