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First NCSAF Luncheon of the Year

Greg Walcher, president of Natural Resources Group, LLC, will be coming to talk to us about the latest government and private-sector workings on biomass utilization.  How is Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) going to transform the playing field?  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is funding for co-generation plants. 

Greg Walcher brings to DC a lifetime of experience, institutional knowledge, contacts and advocacy on natural resources and environmental policy and issues. He specializes in issues related to energy, forest management, public lands and private property rights.  Walcher served as executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, a department of 2500 employees, 8 divisions, 14 boards and commissions, and a $180 million budget. Its jurisdiction includes wildlife, parks, water, forestry, public lands, oil and gas, minerals and geology. His national colleagues elected him president of the national organization of natural resources/environment cabinet secretaries, and he has been a national leader in conservation policy debates.   

Leveraging a decade of Capitol Hill experience as an aide to U.S. Sen. Bill Armstrong, Walcher spent ten years as president and CEO of CLUB 20, a non-partisan, non-profit association of cities, counties, businesses, and individuals serving the interests of Western Colorado. He also served on the national policy committee for the American Society of Association Executives.  Natural resource issues are personal to Walcher. He and his wife Diana own Walcher Orchards, a Colorado operation including a peach orchard, direct marketing and fresh fruit shipping business with customers in over 40 states. In 2009, h e authored the book "Backlash: the Theft of the Conservation Movement and its Pending Recovery."  Now-a-days he is a familiar face seen around biomass discussions on the Hill and in the Executive Branch.


NCSAF Luncheon Presentation – Biomass Utilization
Greg Walcher, President of Natural Resources Group, LLC

Forest conditions :

  • Imagine city of people in 70’s – same race, size, appearance, and 60% sick and dying
  • USFS classifies 60% of national forests: unhealthy, at-risk, diseased, dead, dying
  • Some forests = 90%
  • 17 million acres of beetle kill present now
  • 67 million acres burned since 2000

Green jobs (subsidized jobs) – Alternative Energy (subsidized energy)

You might think the two issues (the overstocking of trees and scarcity of energy) go together – and could solve each other – Greg doesn’t think so.

We agree with more and better utilization of biomass; it is wasteful and dumb to burn piles.

Three primary issues :

  • Definition – Legislation since 2004 contains 14 different definitions of biomass. 
  • 2008 Farm Bill included federal land, but still onerous.  
  • 2007 Energy Bill did not include federal land.  
  • Our position - two criteria: a) conform to federal law and b) conform to forest plan. 

USFS has “Woody Biomass Utilization Strategy” but constrained by Congressional definitions that don't include federal lands – USFS can't contribute actual biomass, only commitment to collaborate, coordinate and advise others.  “Goals and Actions” section – nothing about actually producing biomass from the national forests.

  • Saw logs vs. biomass --  Both goals of 2011 Budget.  What is USFS strategy to increase biomass w/o reducing logs?  Fear:
  • If national budget and target stay flat AND biomass output increases,
  • Traditional timber outputs will decline and forest mgt. would be almost impossible
  • Apparent determination to create new industry vs. working with existing industry
  • “Appropriately sized industry” – blue-stained furniture & buckles, is not landscape-scale
  • W/o long-term supply, biomass not viable. New pellet mills already closed.
  • Forest management/timber sales = good investment.  11 jobs per million board feet ($50M new dollars in timber mgt. would = 17,000 new jobs)
  • Value of forest products will help remove biomass, small diameter trees, accomplish fuels reduction work, restore burned landscapes, etc.
  • USFS expertise: growth, yield, inventory, sustained yield, etc.  That's their forte. 
  • USFS should not advocate specific companies or uses for biomass.  Not their expertise. 

Forest Management still requires chain saws.

And we can do better than the old quote: Forests precede civilizations, deserts follow.

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