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Sawmill will be part of biomass project

It was at the beginning of June that J.R. Ford’s Pagosa Land Co., in collaboration with his company Renewable Forest Energy, LLC, was awarded the Pagosa Area Biomass Long-Term Stewardship contract by the U.S. Forest Service.

Ford’s company will remove biomass and thin the forest on public lands in a 50-mile radius of Pagosa Springs. The typical trees to be cut down in this contract will be in the 6- to 14-inch diameter range.

Ford will then use this biomass and, through the process of gasification, turn it into 5MWe of electricity. To do this, Ford plans to build a gasification and power plant near Cloman Boulevard, adjacent to property currently zoned for light industrial use.

However, this plant will not be the only thing built on this plot of land. Ford will also build a sawmill at the same location.

“The goal is to take and cut logs into squares and sizes that can be sold on the commercial open market,” Ford said. Ford added that he has no intention of selling timber at retail.

Ford also explained that the sawmill will enable his company to fulfill the contract’s obligation of only one entrance into the forest, thus minimizing machine impact to the forest land. The logs can quickly be cut into squares, which will allow the company to haul twice the capacity than it could if the wood was still logs. Some squares will be chipped and used in the gasification process while others will be sold in the wholesale timber market.

Ford is currently in the planning process for both the sawmill and the gasification plant. In order to more efficiently deal with the wood products, Ford said that the sawmill will be built first. He hopes to start construction by September.

lindsey@pagosasun.com

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