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Measuring the Forest and the Trees

Three College of Forestry and Conservation professors were awarded a $1.1 million USDA grant as part of a research team investigating how to turn forest biomass into an alternative energy feedstock. The Rocky Mountain Research Station  of the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture  and the University of Montana are partners in a biomass research project funded through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) and will help increase the availability of alternative renewable fuels and biobased products to diversify the nation's energy resources.

College of Forestry faculty Drs. Woodam Chung, Christopher Keyes, and Tyron Venn will each work on a component of the project over the next four years. “This research will really help energy providers and the public make important decisions about how and where to efficiently use biomass as an alternative to fossil fuels,” says Keyes.

Four College of Forestry and Conservation faculty are working under a Joint Fire Science Program grant to characterize crown biomass in conifer forests of the interior Northwest. Professors David Affleck, Carl Seielstad, John Goodburn, and LLoyd Queen are evaluating and improving crown fuels models for the most ubiquitous conifer species in the region. Their research will help improve existing crown biomass equations and develop new equations. That information will give forest managers and other decisionmakers accurate data on the biomass of their forests.

The species of interest in this project include ponderosa and lodgepole pine, Douglas-fir, western larch, Engelmann spruce, grand fir, and subalpine fir. These species will be surveyed with RBS and TLS across National Forest System lands in eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and western Montana. Additionally, through research linkages with the Inland Northwest Growth & Yield Cooperative, the project will make use of data collected from state, tribal, and private lands across the interior northwest.