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GSFA, in partnership with affiliate Golden State Natural Resources (GSNR), has proposed a Forest Resiliency Initiative to sustainably procure excess biomass from forest thinning projects, orchards, and sawmills, and process the material into a pelletized fuel product. The proposed project includes development of two processing facilities in rural California from which the finished wood pellet product would be shipped and exported to international markets for use in renewable energy generation.
Today, California’s forests are experiencing longer, more intense fire seasons, extended periods of drought, invasive species, an unprecedented level of tree mortality, and the consequences of a century of unnatural fire suppression.
The result is overgrown and under-managed forests that have led to an excessive amount of fuel to burn when a fire ignites. This accumulated fire fuel presents a growing danger to life and property, and the state's natural resources1.
Many forest health projects are unable to succeed in removing the excess forest material because of limited outlets and uses for vegetation overgrowth. Creating a sustainable and economically viable use for generated woody biomass can directly support the revitalization of California's forests, enhance quality of life, and increase public safety.
Through the development of pellet production facilities in rural California, the proposed GSNR forest resiliency project will also create living wage employment opportunities, aiding the economic growth and community development in underserved rural communities. Each of GSNR’s proposed pellet processing facilities would support approximately 55 stable, skilled jobs in rural counties, and multiples of that number in supply chain jobs such as trucking and in-forest workers.
The joint endeavor is designed to benefit residents, businesses and the economies of rural California, and potentially be self-sustaining over the long-term.
In 2019, GSFA entered into a 20-year Master Stewardship Agreement (MSA) with the U.S. Forest Service for all 18 National Forests in Region 5 (covering much of California) to undertake forest management, restoration treatments, and fuel reduction activities. This MSA forms the backbone of the Forest Resiliency Initiative.
GSFA and its affiliates created GSNR as a nonprofit corporation to pursue the objectives of this initiative, and GSFA itself will provide ongoing oversight of GSNR's activities as the proposed project's public partner. In that capacity, GSFA is acting as the lead agency for purposes of the project's environmental review to ensure any and all potential impacts are identified, comprehensively evaluated, and mitigated to the fullest extent feasible. It is anticipated that the Draft Environmental Impact Report will be released in the first quarter of 2024, at which time there will be further opportunity for public review and comment.
The GSFA Board of Directors, made up of elected Supervisors from each of the member counties, ultimately determine whether the project proceeds, and under what conditions.
1 Community Wildire Prevention & Mitigation Report (in response to Executive Order N-05-019): 45 day plan (ca.gov)