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State Releases Guidelines Promoting Sustainable Biomass Harvest

In anticipation of growth in the biomass industry, the Kentucky Division of Forestry has released guidelines for biomass harvesting. The document lays out suggestions for harvesting the material in a sustainable way that will have minimal effect on the forest.Larry Lowe of the Division of Forestry says there have been several companies expressing interest in harvesting biomass in Kentucky, and the guidelines are meant to help potential biomass producers.“So we’re trying to just get prepared in case they actually site a plant that’s going to use a fair quantity of it, then we want to try to help landowners and other wood people to get some ideas about what to think about before they say yes, we’re going to supply,” he says.Carrie Ray works for non-profit Mountain Association for Community and Economic Development. She says it’s great that the Division of Forestry issued the guidelines, and says they’re fairly comprehensive. But:“These are just guidelines," she said. "There is no requirement to follow them, and so particularly if the cost of biomass goes high enough, there’s not much incentive for loggers and landowners to abide by these guidelines.”Ray says even if the document did become a law, the Division of Forestry is under-funded and it’s unlikely they could afford to have enough regulators in the field for enforcement.