of 12 Projects Recognized Nationwide
Auburn, Calif., June 7, 2011-- The Placer County Air
Pollution Control District today was presented with a U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) 2010 Clean Air Excellence Award in Washington, D.C.
The award recognizes the Air District’s efforts in partnership
with Placer County, the U.S. Forest Service, and Sierra Pacific Industries to
implement projects to improve forest health, reduce the risk and negative
effects of catastrophic wildfires, and convert excess forest biomass into
renewable power. These combined efforts have, in turn, significantly reduced
harmful air emissions.
“What we’re demonstrating is that it’s possible to improve
forest health, clean the air and produce more energy from renewable sources
while at the same time making management of forests more economically
sustainable,” said Jim Holmes, Placer County Supervisor and Placer County Air
Pollution Control District (PCAPCD) Board member.
The District’s project is one of only 12 nationwide being
recognized with a 2010 award.
"EPA's history is marked by innovations that have made our
communities cleaner, healthier and more prosperous. This year's Clean Air
Excellence Award winners are continuing that tradition," EPA Administrator
Lisa P. Jackson said. "The winners of this award are helping to make our
air cleaner and our communities more sustainable.”
Placer County’s 550,000 acres of forested land, stretching from Auburn east to
Lake Tahoe are at significant risk of wildfire because they are unnaturally
dense and clogged with excess material highly susceptible to burning. In the
last 10 years alone, the County has experienced five major fires that burned
more than 50,000 acres.
These fires are expensive to fight, cause widespread
environmental damage and release tons of harmful emissions into the air.
The Air District and its partners are implementing projects that reduce hazardous
forest fuels, and transport and process excess forest biomass material such as
limbs, tops and brush into clean energy. These projects have been demonstrated
to improve air and watershed quality, protect soil productivity and lower fire
The specific projects include:
Collecting forest biomass material from selective thinning and
using it as a renewable fuel for energy production.
Quantifying the effects of forest thinning and hazard-reduction
treatments on wildfire size and intensity.
Valuing the benefits of sustainable forest management strategies
on resources such as carbon, water and wildlife habitat.
Identifying the specific air quality benefits – including
significant reductions in emissions of particulate matter, nitrogen oxides,
carbon monoxide, volatile organics and greenhouse gases – associated with use
of forest biomass as a fuel for energy production as compared to burning it in
Establishing a monetary value for reduced greenhouse gas
emissions resulting from diversion of biomass material away from open pile
burns and into renewable energy facilities.
“We’re excited about and proud of the work we’ve done so far to
demonstrate how smart use of public and private resources can yield so many
environmental, economic and social benefits,” said Tom Christofk, PCAPCD Air
Pollution Control Officer.
Additional Information on this award can be found at the following websites.
The EPA's letter along with a summary of the project can be found here. (3/25/11)
USFS Pacific Southwest Region