Last Monday, on May 14, a joint subcommittee oversight field hearing was held in Montrose and given the name “Logs in the Road,” which concentrated on eliminating the red tape and environmental litigation in forest management.
Local businessman J.R. Ford was asked to speak as a panelist at the hearing and give testimony. It was his first time doing so.
“It went well,” Ford said in regards to the overall process.
Ford is the owner of Renewable Forest Energy LLC, a company whose intent, according to company material, is, “to create a commercial viable business in which total forest product removal is achieved, leaving no residual fuels on the forest floor — as currently too much biomass (all) is left on the forest floor increasing fire risk.”
Ford gave input on how the Forest Service could design projects to the community area. Community scaled projects, Ford said, are the way to create a profitable forest health and management solution.
Ford explained that the panelists were to state what they viewed as bumps in the process of forest health and then solutions. The main concern for forest health at the hearing was the devastation created by the bark beetle epidemic.
Ford’s company would use the biomass to create energy through use of a gasification plant; however, in order to do this, there must be a dependable product source for the next 10-15 years. The Pagosa Area Biomass Long-term Stewardship contract would supply this for Ford, yet the Forest Service has been slow to award the contract, nearly nine months slow.
“This last bid process with the Forest Service has proved a little frustrating as a private sector business holding financial investors interests while working out all the contractual details has proven difficult, but that is why we are all here today,” Ford’s written hearing testimony states.
Ford said that he has received phone calls and e-mails from congressmen and other people in attendance at the hearing wanting more information about his community-scaled project. This, Ford said, is a good sign that people are listening and interested in a viable solution to issues in forest health.