The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Maryland Forest Service has been awarded nearly $250,000 for a Wood Innovations Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop priority projects with the Maryland Wood Energy Team.
This partnership with the Maryland Clean Energy Center, Maryland Department of Commerce, University of Maryland Extension, the USDA Forest Service, and others aims to develop wood energy facilities that will produce new jobs and develop renewable energy markets for underutilized forest products, which will, in turn, benefit the health of Maryland’s sustainable forests.
The funding will support the hiring of a woody biomass energy specialist who will identify wood energy opportunities throughout the state. DNR’s Maryland Forest Service will collaborate with experts at the USDA Forest Service to provide design assistance to five to 10 facilities in the state that have high probability for conversion to wood fuel.
“Maryland Forest Service recognized that having a specialist focused on developing wood energy projects in Maryland would be an important driver toward success,” DNR Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio said. “We are thankful for the USDA funding our grant application and supporting this important initiative.”
The Forest Service plans to report on socioeconomic development, climate adaptation and forest stewardship benefits stemming from wood energy innovations and projects to inform the state’s approach. The aim is to develop a market for woody biomass that also delivers benefits for healthy and sustainable forests, and clean and renewable energy.
The Departments of Natural Resources, Commerce, and other state agencies continue working with partners across the state to direct grants, programs, and strategies for building new markets for Maryland’s forest products industry. Commerce has dedicated a staff member to provide support for this initiative.
“The Maryland Department of Commerce is committed to the development of the state’s wood energy industry and this grant will go a long way to bringing new projects to fruition,” said Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz.