|Post-fire logging for biomass utilization. Source: Chris D'Angelo, The Garden Island|
On the island of Kauai, the Kokee Forest Restoration and Replanting Project is underway. An estimated 15,000 tons of eucalyptus and pine trees scorched during fires in 2012 will be harvested and utilized at a local biomass-to-energy plant. The restoration project also includes replanting of native and non-invasive plants to help reduce the threat of post-fire flooding and erosion.
An interesting note about this effort is the Green Energy plant in Koloa (same island), a new, state-of-the-art facility and the first of its kind in the United States. One of only several "closed-loop" systems in the world, it is expected to be connected to the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative grid early next month. (A closed-loop system means a company owns the entire process - from seed to ash - providing the crop for biomass.)
While the project isn't a money-maker for the state, it will go a long way towards restoring the landscape and preventing similar losses in the future. “Given that the biomass plant is here on this island, I think this is a great way to help us improve this forest for recreation, for the watershed and for the restoration of this area,” says Lisa Hadway, administrator for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources' Division of Forestry and Wildlife.
This story is a great example of recognizing and developing opportunities for collaborative efforts that result in improved forest health, post-fire mitigation and economic stimulation.