Missouri Forest Biomass Potential New Source of Energy

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KAIT) -- Whether you drive a car, big rig or tractor, you are no doubt among the families and workers in Region 8 feeling the squeeze of skyrocketing gas prices.  Finding an alternative source for energy has become a necessity.  U.S. Senator Kit Bond spoke with residents about his ideas on forest biomass.

"We have a real energy problem and its economics 101. Demand is outstripping supply," said Senator Bond, "We need to conserve more, we need to produce more and we need to produce more in an environmentally sound way."

Senator Bond is driving Missourians to get real about their energy future, promoting a new source of biofuel, using forest by-products.  Southeast Missouri's Mark Twain National Forest could be a potential goldmine for resources.

"We have several projects that we have going on and we have a lot of bio mass that is in the woods that we don't have a market for, so I'm really anxious to see what the opportunities are to help us accomplish our goals for forest management," said district ranger Doug Oliver.

There are 160,000 acres of forestry in Butler County, land so full of trees almost all of it can be harvested.

"The national forest supervisor, conservation department people told me that these forest have to be thinned out, and it's very expensive but if you could put it to an economical use, you can pay to thin out the forest and provide environmentally friendly source of energy," said Senator Bond.

Thinning the trees can help reduce forest fires and the wood can be used for many different things. It will also create timber jobs lost to other regions and countries.

"There's a lot of it being done across the country, a lot of schools out west are probably using it for heating and cooling for their buildings, in other areas," said Oliver.

A demonstration project is scheduled to begin in the northern part of Butler County soon.