Last Updated November 3, 2009
Wood Education and Resource Center (WERC)
Enhancing business opportunities based on hardwood forest resource utilization, valueadded processing, and wood recycling and reuse
The USDA Forest Service's WERC program fosters interaction and information exchange with the forest products industry to enhance opportunities for sustained forest products production in the eastern hardwood forest region of the United States (35 states). Primary goals include:
- Improve the knowledge, skills, and capacity of the workforce and management within the forest products industry.
- Increase communication, cooperation, and collaborative problem solving within the forest products industry.
- Improve efficiency in forest products manufacturing and wood utilization.
- Promote the sustainable utilization of woody biomass for energy and value-added products.
The program is administered by the Northeastern Area, State and Private Forestry branch of the U. S. Forest Service. The WERC facilities include offices, training facilities, and a rough mill, which are located in Princeton, WV.
Eastern Hardwood Forest Region Woody Biomass Energy Opportunity Project (06-DG-300):
Summit Ridge Investments, LLC, located in Marblehead, MA, completed an analysis of woody biomass opportunities in the eastern United States. The report examines the woody biomass energy opportunity for the 35 states comprising the WERC service area. The report provides an educational overview of the market as it exists today, and offers a baseline reference resource for advanced, targeted feasibility studies in the woody biomass energy arena.
Catskill Woodnet: A Utilization and Marketing Program Promoting Forest Products from the New York City Watershed (05-DG-359):
The New York City's Agricultural Watershed program completed the development of a web-based network called, Catskill Woodnet. This system lists local wood products businesses and their products on the World Wide Web. Catskill Woodnet will assist the Catskill wood-using community to expand, thereby increasing the viability of the regional wood-based economy that sustains a working landscape while protecting water quality. The program is similar to the "buy local, buy fresh" food campaigns already established by the Watershed Agricultural Council.
Maintaining Competitiveness through Employee Ownership in the Forest Products Industry (Award number 07-DG-102):
Wood Innovations, LLC, Madison, WI, recently completed a study and publication titled, Maintaining Competitiveness through Employee Ownership in the Forest Products Industry. The purpose of the document is to provide information to wood products managers and workers on employee stock ownership plans (ESOP), what are they, how they work, how to establish an ESOP, as well as Opportunities and Challenges within the ESOP structure. The publication as well as a webinar on this topic can be viewed at: www.fwe.wisc.edu/extension/esop.html.
Application and Financial Information
Financial assistance is provided on a competitive basis. Normally, applications are accepted beginning around December 1st through February 1st. Additional information including application and instructions regarding the annual competitive grants process can be found at www.na.fs.fed.us/werc/grants.shtm. This grant opportunity is also announced through Grants.gov. Grants required a one-to-one nonfederal match.
Eligibility, Uses, and Restrictions
Organizations eligible for competitive grants include nonfederal agencies; public and private agencies including state, local and tribal governments; institutions of higher education; non-profit organizations; for-profit organizations; corporations; businesses; and others.
Priorities for grants include:
- Maintain the economic competitiveness of primary and secondary hardwood industries. Examples include:
- Encouraging the adoption of new technology to improve competitiveness and profitability,
- Bringing information and technology about processing, marketing, and business-related skills as well as urban wood utilization to existing and emerging businesses, and
- Developing utilization options that improve forest stewardship and health.
- Increase the knowledge and information about how the hardwood industry can contribute to the green building movement. Examples include certification and chain of custody for sustainable wood products as well as life cycle analysis for a range of wood products.
- Increase the knowledge, information, and promotion of how carbon sequestration by wood products can provide a competitive edge to a sustainable hardwood industry. An example includes developing specific carbon storage factors for a range of wood products.
- Develop technology and markets to address urgent issues on a global or domestic scale, including:
- Sanitizing wood packaging materials, firewood, and similar products to eliminate these pathways for the transport of insect and disease pests, and
- Developing markets for and using unexpected increases in the volume of urban and rural wood due to new pest introductions (for example emerald ash borer) and weather events such as tornados and ice storms.
- Increase the sustainable use of woody biomass to meet our nation's needs for energy and raw materials. Examples include public/private partnerships for using woody biomass in heating and cooling, process energy, cogeneration, district energy systems, and solid and liquid fuel production. Projects may also develop or maintain local markets and forest industry infrastructure by using woody biomass for both energy and value-added products.
Steve Milauskas, Director
USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area, State and Private Forestry Wood Education and Resource Center
301 Hardwood Lane
Princeton, WV 24740
Phone: (304) 487-1510