(Portland, OR) — Governor Kitzhaber today met with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to discuss rural economic development, water infrastructure, sage grouse conservation, and U.S. Department of Agriculture support for Oregon wood innovation projects. The Secretary was in Portland and Salem for meetings on leveraging public-private partnerships for infrastructure in advance of the White House’s Rural Council "Return on Investment" summit next week.
"In cooperation with my office and our state agencies, USDA plays a critical role in projects that conserve Oregon’s natural resources while supporting rural jobs," said Governor Kitzhaber. "I look forward to building on that partnership to revitalize rural communities."
At the meeting, the Governor thanked the Secretary for this week’s announcement that Oregon will receive funding from USDA to support wood energy projects that promote forest restoration and rural jobs. On Tuesday, USDA informed the Governor that Oregon would receive more than half a million dollars in new support for the state’s wood energy team and two woody biomass energy projects.
"Oregon is leading the way on sustainable biomass energy development," said Governor Kitzhaber. "These grants will help us build on the good work already happening in Grant, Deschutes, and Wallowa counties to promote restoration on public lands, diversify wood product opportunities, reduce the threat from wildfires, and create good jobs in rural parts of our state."
The Oregon Department of Forestry will receive $250,000 for its collaborative effort to develop projects and markets that support the use of woody biomass. ODF will use part of the funding to provide direct project support that leverages additional investments from the private sector.
Another $220,000 grant will support a woody biomass thermal energy project at Mt. Bachelor just outside of Bend. A third grant, at $33,600, will support a technical engineering report on an integrated biomass facility near Gold Beach being developed by Three Dimensional Timberlands.
The Governor and Secretary also discussed Oregon’s efforts to conserve sage grouse and sage grouse habitat. The Governor described Oregon’s SageCon partnership, which brings together ranchers, energy companies, and others on strategies that simultaneously support conservation efforts and a sustainable path for rural community and economic development.
More information about the USDA awards
List of all grant recipients