Sunrise Over Lochsa River


USDA-AFRI Awards Office of Community Partnerships $350,000

The northwestern U.S. has the potential to develop a bioenergy industry that would provide economic and environmental benefits to communities and businesses in the region. The goal of this project is to explore the potential to utilize woody biomass (i.e., wood residues such as tree limbs, tree tops, brush, and other material derived from forest vegetation such as small diameter trees) to support a bioenergy industry that benefits rural communities—specifically those in the Northern Rocky Mountain forests in Idaho, western Montana, and the forested areas of eastern Washington and Oregon. In this project we are evaluating the economic and social impacts of bioenergy technologies as a development strategy in these areas.

The UI Office of Community Partnerships has gathered a team of researchers from the College of Business and Economics, the Dept. of Forest, Fire and Rangeland Sciences and the Dept. of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. Over the next two years, the team will model scenarios and conduct economic impact assessments. As a first step, we collaborated with the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) to conduct a stakeholder survey. Now we are developing preliminary forest operations scenarios and interviewing regional stakeholders such as nonindustrial forest owners, economic development professionals, timber industry representatives, and elected officials to better understand the potential benefits, tradeoffs, and feasibility of different strategies. Results will provide useful information for public and private decision-makers at the community, state, and regional levels.

For more information, please contact:

Soren Newman, Research Associate
Shoup Hall 312 (office)
875 Perimeter Dr. MS 2007 (mailing)
Moscow, Idaho 83844-2007

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative: Socioeconomic Impacts Of Wood-Based 
Biofuels Development Strategies On Northern Rocky Mountain Communities In The Northwest
Grant # 2012-00948