Forest Benefits

What is Biomass?

Woody biomass refers to both forest biomass and mill residuals.

  • Forest biomass: the “left-overs” in the woods after harvesting – tops, limbs, defect, or small-diameter trees and other low-value material (slash)
  • Mill residuals: the by-products of wood products manufacturing such as shavings, sawdust, and clean wood chips.

Build-up of this material invites disease outbreaks and insect infestations. It also poses a wildfire hazard. Millions of acres of Oregon's forests are at high risk of damaging fires due to excess biomass. 

Creating val​ue from waste

As a low-value byproduct of forestry or manufacturing, the use of biomass adds value and turns waste into products that support communities, improve forest health, and provide renewable energy.​

Woody biomass is already being made into a wide variety of renewable energy products including electricity, steam, hot water, wood pellets, wood bricks, commercial firewood, compressed fire logs, and charcoal. Other renewable energy and bio-based products, such as liquid transportation fuels and biochar, continue to emerge.​

The biomass multi-tool​

Biomass use and businesses benefit forests and rural communities alike. Like the proverbial Swiss Army knife, biomass use can do many positive things. When markets are strong, biomass-based businesses can:

  • Create jobs in rural communities by growing new biomass-based businesses using sustainable, renewable local resources. Targeted grants and loans are helping catalyze new biomass businesses, projects, and products.
  • Expand economic capacity and help make existing wood products businesses more resilient by finding a home for what was previously a waste and a cost.
  • Help restore federal forests by creating new economic outlets for materials from forest health treatments. Viable markets for small trees and biomass decrease costs while advancing the pace and scale of forest restoration treatments.
  • Remove juniper and improve rangeland habitat. Viable juniper markets reduce the costs of treatments to improve sage grouse habitat and reduce the risk of fire. 

Restoration Success Stories​

ODF has produced a new multi-media series highlighting ways communities in Oregon and northern California are working together to make forest restoration work for them. In these stories, you’ll meet individuals from a diverse background who have all rolled up their sleeves to forge solutions that are true to the land and the community.
Collaboration—diverse interests working together—is key the success of these efforts. These stories show long-term success can be found by creating the right structure functioning from the ground up. 
Collaboration and uses of Biomass:
Restoration Renaissance: A New Paradigm in John Day. When the town’s remaining lumber mill threatened to close environmentalists and local leaders stepped in to save it.

Biomass grant resources

ODF offers competitive grants for forest biomass as a way to help offset that risk, as well as to jumpstart new uses.

Grant offerings typically provide support for early-stage project development, such as project feasibility, design, and engineering; grants are not provided for capital construction funding or on-going facility operations/maintenance. 

  • Geographic availability: limited to Grant, Union, Wallowa, Umatilla and Baker counties
  • Eligibility: available to public, private, and non-profit entities
  • Match requirement: minimum 25 percent match required
  • Eligible use of funds: feasibility, design, engineering for biomass utilization
  • Amount awarded to date: $170,000 awarded to nine entities since 2013
  • Funding source: USDA Forest Service​
  • Geographic availability: statewide
  • Eligibility: available to public, private, and non-profit entities
  • Match requirement: minimum 25 percent match required
  • Eligible use of funds: feasibility, design, engineering for biomass energy projects
  • Amount awarded to date: none.  $150,00​​0 available
  • Funding source: USDA Forest Service
Photo of wood chips


Statewide Wood Energy Team

Oregon Forest Biomass Working Group​

Marcus Kauffman
Biomass Resource Specialist
Phone: 541-580-7480