Rural schools money pays for biomass, fire safety |

Rural schools money pays for biomass, fire safety

Emma Garrard/Sierra Sun file photoMaintenance worker Paul Barclay pours wood chips into a gasifier at the biomass facility at Truckee Regional Park. The facility was closed this spring, but Placer County plans to collect biomass materials in the Basin.

The Placer County board of supervisors on Tuesday authorized spending a portion of the federal funding it receives for rural school on wildfire prevention and biomass programs.At its monthly meeting Tuesday in Kings Beach, the board set aside 20 percent of the $1.2 million the county receives from the Secure Rural Schools & Community Self-Determination Act. The majority of the funds goes into the schools and roads to compensate for tax revenues formerly generated by the now-dwindling logging industry. The county will now allocate $325,000 in discretionary funds for such on-the-ground programs as wood chipping, defensible space inspections, search and rescue operations and a Tahoe Basin Biomass Removal Program.The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act was originally passed in 2000 and expired last year. Congress approved a one-year extension, but legislation to renew the act for future years is still pending.Supervisor Bruce Kranz requested the discretionary funds be incorporated into programs, rather than spent on planning and administration.I do want to have as much money as possible put on the ground, he said.A portion of the funds will support a recently launched program that places biomass drop-off boxes in various neighborhoods. The boxes serve as a disposal service for woody materials. The county received an air pollution control grant for $45,000 to help support the biomass collection program.To date, the county has installed more than 150 bins throughout the community, said Brett Storey of the County Executive Office.Another $37,500 of the discretionary funds will pay the salary of a county biomass manager to oversee the removal of flammable materials from National Forest lands and turn them over to energy production. The staffing will allow the county to actively accomplish its biomass goals, a county report stated.More funds will be spent to inform the public about fire prevention and biomass techniques.

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