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Tribal Biomass Demonstration Project

The Department of the Interior is accepting proposals from Tribes to carry out projects using woody biomass.

Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2017 (Public Law 115-325) is a project designed to provide Indian Tribes with greater autonomy over the management and development of their energy resources.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) provides support and assistance to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in implementing the Tribal Biomass Demonstration Project to promote biomass energy production for federally-recognized Indian Tribes and Alaska Native corporations.

This project provides a more effective and accessible ways for Indian Tribes to develop their energy resources, generate revenue and improve the well-being of their communities. It also provides Tribes opportunities to secure reliable, long-term supplies of woody biomass materials.

For each fiscal year the projects are authorized, the BLM will carry out at least four projects on BLM lands and at least one project in Alaska.

According to the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2017, merchantable logs that have been identified for commercial sale cannot be included in any Tribal Biomass Demonstration Project.

 

What is Woody Biomass?

Woody biomass is any by-product of management, restoration, and vegetation management treatments, as well as the product of natural disasters, including trees and woody plants (limbs, tops, needles, leaves, and other woody parts, grown in a forest, woodland, or rangeland environment).

Federal and Tribal land managers annually remove significant volumes of woody biomass through the process of thinning forests to prevent wildfire (fuels treatments) and removing diseased trees and invasive species to improve forest and rangeland health. Woody biomass is also the product of natural disasters, such as hurricanes and tornados. Most of this material is left to decay or burned in place.

This woody biomass represents a potential source of raw material to produce energy in the forms of heat, fuel or electricity and other useful products such as mulch or erosion control products. Using woody biomass, instead of wasting or burning it, has numerous social, economic, and environmental benefits.

 

Criteria for Project Eligibility

The Department of the Interior established the following criteria to participate in the Tribal Biomass Demonstration Projects.

  1. Proposal must contain information the Secretary may require;
  2. Includes a description of the Indian forest land or rangeland under the jurisdiction of the Tribe
  3. The demonstration project the Tribe proposes to carry out.

 

Project Selection Criteria

When entering into an agreement or contract in response to a request of an Indian Tribe, the Secretary will use best-value basis and give specific consideration to Tribally-related factors in the proposal, including:

  • Status of the Indian Tribe as an Indian Tribe;
  • The trust status of the Indian forest land or rangeland of the Indian Tribe
  • The cultural, traditional, and historical affiliation of the Indian Tribe with the land subject to the proposal;
  • The treaty rights or other reserved rights of the Indian Tribe relating to the land subject to the proposal;
    • the indigenous knowledge and skills of members of the Indian Tribe;
    • the features of the landscape of the land subject to the proposal, including watersheds and vegetation types;
    • the working relationships between the Indian Tribe and federal agencies in coordinating activities affecting the land subject to the proposal; and
    • the access by members of the Indian Tribe to the land subject to the proposal.

The Secretary will also consider whether a proposed project would:

  • Increase the availability or reliability of local or regional energy; 
  • Enhance the economic development of the Tribe;
  • Result in or improve the connection of electric power transmission facilities serving the Indian Tribe with other electric transmission facilities; 
  • Improve the forest health or watersheds of federal land or Indian forest land or rangeland;
  • Demonstrate new investments in infrastructure; or
  • Otherwise promote the use of woody biomass.
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