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   How We Can Help
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   Our Strategy

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   9/2009 Forests and Energy,
    Missoula, MT

   12/2008 Wood to Energy,
    Helena, MT

   10/2007 Making Wood
    Work, Missoula, MT

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About Fuels for Schools and Beyond


(top of page)


How We Can Help


Program History

Our Strategy



Mission back to top


To promote and encourage the use of wood biomass as a renewable, natural resource to provide a clean, readily available energy source suitable for heat and power generation in Western communities.


To facilitate the removal of hazardous fuels from our forests by assisting in the development of viable commercial uses of removed material.


How We Can Help back to top


The Fuels for Schools and Beyond partners and staff provide a great resource for implementing community biomass energy projects through technical and financial assistance.   


Technical Assistance


Our program staff can assist you with:

  • Determining project feasibility
  • Identifying financing opportunities
  • Conducting local fuel supply assessments
  • Information sharing and networking
  • Overall support and assistance


Financial Assistance


See your state's program for financial assistance opportunities. Woody Biomass Utilization Grant Program of USFS provides funding to further planning and design of biomass energy facilities. http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/research/units/tmu/tmugrants.shtml

Click here to view financing opportunities.


Since the FFS&B program beginnings in 2003, we continue to expand our knowledge and experience and we have become part of an ever-growing network of skilled and knowledgeable partners in woody biomass energy.  Among them are natural resource managers and foresters, fuel suppliers, economic development agencies, energy service companies, architects, engineers, contractors, technical consultants, environmental quality departments, boiler manufacturers, boiler operators, facility managers, school boards, communities, as well as energy and forest policy experts at regional and national levels.  It is with the collective knowledge, expertise and collaboration of these diverse partners that we continue to strive to make woody biomass energy work for communities and forests.


Benefits back to top


Woody biomass is a renewable and sustainable fuel source that provides solutions to ensure the viability of energy supply, the environment, and economic systems at local, national, and global scales. 



Energy independence and security

Level the pendulum of volatile fossil fuel costs

Alternative, renewable, and sustainable fuel source



Reduce and stabilize fuel costs for facilities

Invest in local fuel economies

Revive rural America



Reduce net greenhouse gas emissions

Reduce fire hazard and risks to communities, watersheds and habitats

Improve forest health

Reduce air pollution from open burning

Encourage use of otherwise wasted product

Divert usable wood waste from landfills



Program History back to top

The Fuels for Schools and Beyond program is a partnership between the USDA Forest Service’s State & Private Forestry Division, participating state coordinators, and the Bitter Root Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Area, Inc., to promote and facilitate the use of forest biomass waste for heating, cooling and power in public and private buildings.

The Fuels for Schools Initiative came out of directives from the National Fire Plan of 2001 which included specific grant dollars under Economic Action Programs (under USDA Forest Service State and Private Forestry) for pilot projects to demonstrate new uses of small diameter and underutilized woody material, as well as projects using proven technologies to use such material. The intent of this focused funding was to develop new markets for woody material that has historically been considered waste, so that the substantial cost of thinning hazardous fuels, which generates little in the way of what is traditionally considered “commercial" timber, could be partially offset by the economic value of “non-commercial" biomass. 

A match is made: After the wildfires in the summer of 2000, which burned over 350,000 acres and 70 structures in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana, a resident of Darby, Montana began to research ways in which to tie fire hazard reduction work with economic development in the valley. He discovered that waste wood was being used to heat a number of schools in the northeastern U.S., and approached community leaders with the idea of using slash (tree limbs, tops and branches) from hazardous fuels reduction projects for heat in Darby’s schools. With the aid of a grant from the Economic Action Program and assistance from the Bitter Root RC&D, USDA Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory and the Biomass Energy Resource Center, a biomass boiler system was planned, designed and installed at Darby and began heating their three schools in the fall of 2003.

The program is born: Through this process, State & Private Forestry personnel in the Northern and Intermountain Regions of the USDA Forest Service decided to focus their Economic Action Program funding on the Fuels for Schools Initiative.  They announced this strategy in June of 2004 to expand the concept of biomass heat using fuels reduction waste to other schools throughout the Northern and Intermountain Regions. 

Our Strategy back to top

The strategy of the FFS Initiative entails a three phase process.   The first phase involved establishing a demonstration project in each of the region’s states.  Phase two involved expansion of the concept and facilitating the installation of additional biomass boilers.  There are currently currently over 25 small community-scale biomass boilers operating throughout the western states. While continuing to provide support to projects, the program is now in its third phase of transitioning out of the role as primary funder and seeking to promote the “wood to energy" concept to the private sector. 

Maintaining a strong role in technical assistance, the Fuels for Schools and Beyond partners and staff provide a great resource for implementing community biomass projects.  Our assistance includes helping those in the private and public sectors through knowledge sharing, information dissemination, identifying potential financing opportunities, supply assessment, and overall support and assistance as needed.  We continue to work in collaboration with all of our partners on improving efficiencies of supply infrastructure, advancing local and national policies in biomass utilization, and ensuring the viability of the nation’s forests and communities. 

View the Fuels for Schools Business Outlook, Jan. 2004



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