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Planning and Implementation of a Forest Service Stewardship Contract to Produce Biochar from Vegetation Management Using Hand Crews and Simple Kilns

Don Morrison
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Abstract: 

Volunteers from SURCP (South Umpqua Rural Community Partnership) have designed, built and demonstrated the utility of simple Flame Cap Kilns for use in processing forest slash piles into biochar. Building on this proof-of-concept work, they have collaborated with the US Forest Service to plan a vegetation management stewardship contract for a 10-acre unit that will thin small trees with sawyers, yard biomass to the roadside mechanically and stage it for efficient biochar production using hand crews. The contract establishes a value of the biomass as a “good for service,” under stewardship contracting rules. It also establishes a value for the biochar product based on estimates of equipment and labor required to produce, process and transport biochar to market. Preliminary analysis indicates biochar production will cost several times more than the current practice of piling and burning slash on site. The future of vegetation management projects that produce charcoal rather than smoke may depend on the market price of biochar and the efficiency of fuel reduction methods.

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