“British Columbia has lost 40 million acres of forest to the bark beetle; Colorado is approaching 2 million acres of dead forest; Wyoming just recently crested the 1-million-acre mark,” said Mary Ann Chambers, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service’s Bark Beetle Incident Management Team for the Rocky Mountain region.
Source: The Climate Daily, “Climate change has doubled forest mortality”
This photo taken in Wyoming but it could be anywhere in the western US.
Destruction of trees by the mountain pine beetle, combined with climate change and fire, makes for a dangerous feedback loop. Dead forests sequester less carbon dioxide. Burning forests release huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. More CO2 adds to climate change, which raises temperatures, stresses forests, and makes bigger fires that much more likely.
Montana faces an incredibly tough situation in years ahead. What to do with 3.9 million acres* of standing dead beetle-kill trees? Let them all rot? Burn? Sit back and let nature take its course because we can’t agree on a fair, environmentally and economically balanced strategy to do anything more? What about people and employment? Economic growth? Clear skies in the summer? Forests that are primed to explode?
Or do we put our heads together and get to work converting at least some of this massive carbon abundance into new forms of clean-carbon energy we can all use, like green, renewable mixed alcohol transportation fuels?
That’s what Bioroot Energy is doing. We invite your participation and support.
Do a quick potential yield calculation based on 5 tons of thinnings and slash material per acre, which is a ridiculously low figure for thinned Montana forest land. That’s 19.5 million tons of biomass. (Some credible forest remediation estimates run 28-30 tons per acre.) Surely there is a gargantuan amount of sustainably harvestable biomass outside of protected wilderness and other sensitive areas to support a substantial biofuel industry.
What could a cutting-edge biofuel industry do for western Montana? What could it do for you? Please let us know what you think.
*Pine beetles infested 1.2 million acres of Montana forest in 2008 and 2.7 million acres in 2009, based on aerial surveys.
Source: Montana Standard