The Saratoga Sun -

Colo. company wins Forest Service stewardship bid

 


Bolstering a long-term strategy to address fuel reduction and overall forest health, USDA Under Secretary Harris Sherman yesterday announced a Forest Service 10-year stewardship contract totaling $4.75 million for the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest.

“Not only will these contracts help us alleviate the impacts of the mountain pine beetle infestation and reduce the threats of catastrophic wildfire, but they also will offer a supply of woody biomass that will be used to produce low-cost heat and a clean, renewable source of electricity,” Sherman said. 

The stewardship contract is focused on improving the health of subalpine and mountain forests affected by mountain pine beetle on portions of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest.

The Medicine Bow-Routt Long Term Stewardship Contract was awarded to Confluence Energy of Kremmling, Colo. Confluence Energy’s bid of $4.75 million was awarded based on price and on the company’s technical ability to accomplish forest health projects. Confluence Energy will remove beetle-killed trees and pile or scatter the residual debris that has no commercial value. In areas where the trees have commercial value for wood products such as dimension lumber, wood pellets and other biomass products, Confluence Energy will pay for that material to offset the cost to the government of the other forest health treatments in the contract area.

The Rocky Mountain Region of the Forest Service developed a strategy to address the increasing threats to health and safety from the millions of acres with dead trees due to the mountain pine beetle epidemic and the emerging spruce beetle epidemic. The strategy focuses on prioritizing hazardous tree removal, working with partners to reduce risks to infrastructure such as power lines, residences and ski areas and providing up-to-date public information as those activities move forward.

Estimates are that, on average, approximately 70 to 80 percent of the mature trees have been killed to date. As the dead trees fall, experts predict an increase in wildfire severity that would result in a degradation of our watersheds and in turn negatively affect municipal water quality and other national forest resources.

The Forest Service issued a request for proposal in Federal Business Opportunities in May, then held field visits for potential bidders to show the types of areas identified in the request for proposals and to explain the work required.

Stewardship contracting allows the Forest Service to apply the value of timber or other forest products removed from national forests as an offset against the cost of non-income generating treatments such as thinning or hazardous fuel removal.

 

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