Placer County Biomass Program
Placer County Biomass Forest Fuels Treatment Video
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News Release - May 2013
Cabin Creek Biomass Facility
The Placer County Board of Supervisors unanimously denied the third-party appeal of the December 6, 2012 Planning Commission certifications of the project's Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) and approval of the project's Conditional Use Permit. The County and the appealant cooperatively formulated several new conditions of approval for the project which were approved. The project will now be seeking permits from the Placer County Air Pollution Control District to operate the proposed facility.
The Placer County Board of Supervisors (BOS) embarked on a path to combat the threat of catastrophic wildfire and protect its citizens from the devastating effects such a wildfire would have. Specifically, the BOS created the Biomass Program to oversee and coordinate Placer County’s efforts to: (1) determine the feasibility of removing woody biomass from forest lands in the County; and (2) examine the options for using excess biomass to generate economically-sustainable forms of energy or other beneficial products. To ensure these efforts have a positive effect on County wildlands and citizens, the BOS has outlined several specific tasks that it would like accomplished. Through participation in the Biomass Technical Committee and the Wildfire Protection & Biomass Policy Advisory group; the Biomass Manager, other pertinent County staff, several state and federal agency personnel, and various private consultants are working in support of the BOS’ stated direction.
Placer County’s proactive approach in addressing biomass management has provided the County with the unique opportunity to lead the state by being the first County to implement elements of the Bio-energy Action Plan of the State of California. It also provides the County with the opportunity to develop partnerships and capitalize on state and federal funding for biomass programs. This Program provides direction for Placer County to address biomass removal and utilization; coordinate with state and federal programs; develop strategic partnerships; and effectively and efficiently protect Placer County communities from catastrophic wildfire.
Placer County, California is located east of Sacramento between Nevada County (to the north) and El Dorado County (to the south). The County stretches from the edge of the Central Valley, east through the foothills and Sierra Nevada to Lake Tahoe and the Nevada border. Approximately half of the County’s 969,600 acres are forested. This includes considerable portions of the Tahoe National Forest and Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.
Many of the forests in Placer County have an unnatural excess accumulation of woody biomass due to decades of fire suppression activities. In addition to contributing to poor forest health, excess biomass greatly increases the risk of catastrophic wildfire. To address this issue, Placer County established the Wildfire Protection and Biomass Utilization Program (hereafter referred to as “Program”). The main goals of the Program are to:
- Reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires in Placer County.
- Protect Placer County citizens and visitors from the consequences of catastrophic wildfires.
- Find one or more beneficial uses for excess biomass in Placer County.
- Improve air quality in Placer County.
A Board of Supervisors approved Strategic Plan (Placer County Biomass Strategic Plan - October 2007) provides the path for Placer County to effectively protect its communities from the threat of catastrophic wildfire, and to efficiently manage biomass resources that are a large component of that threat. If Program goals are met, Placer County will be a safer, healthier, and more enjoyable place for all.
In order to better the County and its lands; by protecting its citizens, their property, and our environment; and to assure the future ability to maintain an enjoyable quality of life; we will embark on a path to reduce the threat of a catastrophic wildfire, while deriving the most optimum method of converting unwanted woody biomass into a beneficial commodity.
It is the intent of Placer County to advance this vision in terms understandable to all citizens, such that they understand that the County intends to protect its communities and the natural environment in conjunction with promoting forest health in practical ways. It is our hope that this mission will gain acceptance from all groups and individuals living, working, and caring about Placer County.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Award
On June 7, 2011, Placer County and its partners; Placer County Air Pollution Control District, U.S. Forest Service, and Sierra Pacific Industries, accepted a 2010 Clean Air Excellence Award. This project was chosen for its impact, innovation, and replicability.
The award was based upon the past four years of biomass projects where the County team collected, processed and transported 15,000 bone dry tons of forest waste which has fueled the generation of 15,000 megawatt hours of renewable electricity. All of the material was destined to be burned in the open. The projects have been able to achieve emission reductions of 90 tons of fine particulate matter, 23 tons of nitrogen oxides, 70 tons of volatile organics, 900 tons of carbon monoxide and over 6,000 tons of greenhouse gases.
Placer County is continuing with all its partners in performing this vital work to make the forest a safer and healthier place and to make the region’s air cleaner.
Placer County Receives EPA Award For Clean Air Excellence Regarding Biomass Program