$30 Pass For State Parks, State Lands – A Fair Deal

State agencies and the Washington Legislature are beginning to hear the publics’ message:  The Departments of Parks, Fish and Wildlife, and Natural Resources have agreed on a “one-pass-for-all” approach to providing access to state lands and facilities during difficult budget times.

Programs in education, health care, social services and criminal justice are (rightly) at the top of the budget priority list to retain in the general fund budget.  So, the proposed $30 Discover Pass provides a reasonable means to pay for retaining access to state outdoor recreation venues.

In fact, the Discover Pass seems like a pretty good bargain.  Last year, we needed to purchase a $30 pass to access just Fish and Wildlife lands.  This proposal sounds like a relatively fair deal.

More from the Seattle PI:

$30 annual fee for parks, state lands?

Legislation to set up a $30-per-vehicle annual “Discovery Pass” for those using state parks and wildlife lands has been introduced at the request of the cash-strapped land management agencies.

“As lawmakers discuss the most drastic budget cuts in state history, we need to align our revenues with our expectations about our quality of life,” said State Sen. Kevin Ranker, prime sponsor of the bill.


Sacajawea state park in Pasco


“We need to talk about not just how much our outdoor recreation services cost, but also how much it costs to lose them,” Ranker added. “Without this legislation, we will witness widespread closure of state parks and other public facilities.”

Senate Bill 5622 would create an annual, singular “Discovery Pass” whose holders could visit Washington State Parks and lands managed by the Dept. of Natural Resources and the Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. It would cost $30 per year. Day use passes would be sold for $10.

Volunteers who donate at least 40 hours of their time on state-sanctioned project would get a free annual pass.

The legislation specifies how each agency would spend dollars generated by the Discovery Pass. State Parks would receive 85 percent of the revenue, DNR and Wish & Wildlife would get 7.5 percent each.

Under this formula, State Parks would receive $61 million, DNR and Fish & Wildlife $7.5 million apiece. Income over $71 million would be distributed evenly between the agencies.

A House version of the Discovery Pass has been introduced by State Rep. Kevin Van De Wege.

“State general revenues are no longer a stable source of funding for outdoor recreation on state lands,” said Phil Anderson, director of the Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife.

State Parks Director Don Hock added that with parks losing General Fund tax support, “we need a new way to fund recreation and a user-pay model seems to be the fairest — those who use parks pay for them.”

Link to Seattle PI article

Pacific Biomass Conference – Algae Solution May Be Closer Than We Think

An earlier post discussed the issue of recovering CO2 from forest biomass energy generation by inserting an algal synthesis process to capture CO2.  The recent conference provides a “lay of the land” and specifically mentions forest residues.  Here’s an excerpt of a report from Biomass Digest:

In California, the Pacific West Biomass Conference opened with the bright promise of the State’s enormous biomass resources. However, several speakers in the morning’s plenary sessions invoked major statutory and regulatory barriers to fulfilling this promise. There are conflicting definitions of biomass and what qualifies as a legitimate source or conversion process. The conflicts run across the standards for earning carbon credits and renewable energy credits, attaining the Renewables Portfolio Standard (for utilities), meeting AB32 carbon reduction goals, and meeting California Integrated Waste Management Board landfill diversion goals. These issues reach beyond California since the State’s standards strongly affect those of many other States.

For instance, the California Renewables Portfolio standards do not accept organic municipal solid waste as a source for renewable energy (except for landfill methane capture and gasification of MSW). Green-e, the favored third party certifier for both RECs and carbon credits, denies greenhouse gas reduction credits to energy from solid and liquid biomass from nearly all sources.

Jim Stewart, Chairman of the California Bioenergy Producers Association described Assembly Bill 222, drafted five years ago to rationalize definitions, sources, and technologies. This bill has been approved in the Assembly but the Senate Environmental Committee is sitting on it, in response to strong pressure from environmental organizations. Several speakers emphasized the need to work with the environmentalists to help them understand the relative impacts and benefits of biomass energy compared with fossil energy. (No representative from the enviro organizations were on the agenda.)

Amplifying Feedstocks

Reliable access to biomass feedstocks was a recurring theme. Companies are researching new species, such as Sustainable Oils’ Camilina sativa and Viaspace’s Giant King Grass project in a tropical region of China.  <link to earlier Digest stories> Some companies are focusing on “waste” streams or residues, others on scanning for new strains and enhancing dedicated energy crops through traditional plant breeding or genetic engineering.

One of the most innovative approaches to feedstocks was Dallas Hank’s baseline assessment of idle public lands, such as freeway frontage, railroad and airport land, and military bases. This Utah State University Extension researcher estimates that over twenty million acres of US public land could be farmed for dedicated biomass crops. His economic analysis shows the overall costs of production would be a small fraction of growing bioenergy crops on private land.  (See www.freewaystofuel.org for Hank’s powerpoint and information on the Freeways to Fuel Alliance.)


Maintaining viability of algae companies

In the Biorefinery track algae companies had strong representation. Kent Bioenergy, Aurora Biofuels, Genifuel Corporation and Bioalgene presented their approaches. One manager responded to the question “When do you think your company will be producing cost competitive biodeisel.”  “I hope its within my lifetime,” was his modest response. Others projected three to five years to commercial application.

However, the algae developers emphasized business models based on revenues from sequestering carbon and processing other pollutants, on the input side. On the output side they are seeking to create multiple co-products to achieve ROI as biodiesel production evolves to cost competitive status.

For instance, Kent Bioenergy uses effluent from a waste water treatment plant on the Salton Sea and landfill leachate (SE California) as nutrient rich media for growing microalgae. Bioalgene has a demonstration site in Boardman OR that captures CO2 from a coal fired power plant to speed growth. Genifuel gasifies nuisance wet algae to produce methane, as well as plants like water hyacinth that clog waterways. This site’s coproducts include sterile water and organic fertilizer. <http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/blog2/2009/05/08/genifuel-licenses-new-method-for-converting-algae-to-natural-gas-for-power-gen> Other companies mentioned animal feed, fertilizer, biopolymers, and feedstock to anaerobic digesters as coproducts.

This systems business model of diversifying input and output revenue streams enables these algae companies to remain viable while evolving a commercially competitive biofuel. Cellulosic ethanol producers described similar strategies.

Bryan Yeh of SAIC presented the DARPA sponsored study of algae companies and recommendations for successful algae business development. He says the report will likely not be released for another 6 months.

Biomass Investment

One of the fully subscribed tracks was the late addition — Biomass Power Project Development & Finance. These four sessions offered very informed commentary by investors and a great deal of time for questions and discussion. The investors” case reports demonstrated the active role they play in supporting their companies’ project teams in evolving sustainable business models that mitigate risks for both equity and debt investors.

Learning from one another

Conference participants commented on the great value of cross-pollination between different technologies at an event like this. One company learns from another’s solutions to basic strategic issues of feedstock supply, sustainable business models, integration of technologies, or coproducts. The sharing from presentations was greatly amplified by discussions in the breaks, lunches and late-afternoon receptions. Although BBI tightly scheduled the formal presentations, it was generous in time for breaks, lunch, and late afternoon receptions.

Diversity of the biomass industry cluster

Participants also commented on how the diverse sponsors and exhibitors were a good cross section of the biomass cluster. These included service and product suppliers (law firms, bioengineering companies), manufacturers of equipment for processing feedstocks (grinders, shredders, pellet or briquette compressors), construction engineering firms, the firms harvesting ag and forest residues, and some of the biomass conversion companies. Many firms in the supply chain have expanded from their traditional product lines to embrace bioenergy and biomaterials. In some cases they become project partners rather than vendors.

Free Trees and Shrubs – Kitsap County

Perfect time for planting, and the plants are FREE:

Ueland Tree Farm and Kitsap County Master Gardeners are joining together to provide a free public native plant salvage on the weekend of February 19-20th from 9 AM to 4 PM each day.  Trees and shrubs can be salvaged in an area where a tree harvest will occur later in the year.

Plants available for salvage include Douglas-fir, Western White Pine, Western Hemlock, Western Red Cedar, Rhododendron, Salal, Evergreen Huckleberry, Oregon Grape, and Sword Fern. Kitsap County Master Gardeners will be available over the weekend to provide advice on how to dig up and transplant native vegetation, as well as to answer questions.

Here’s a map to help find your way:

View Ueland Tree Farm Vicinity in a larger map

Forest Biomass, Algae and Oil

Utilizing forest biomass for energy production is in vogue in the Pacific Northwest right now.  Nippon Industries in Port Angeles, WA is moving toward building a 20 megawatt project.  One recurring theme seems to trip-up this sort of energy solution:  CO2 is a primary by-product of the generation process.  While some argue that burning biomass is still carbon neutral since CO2 is released from the biomass over time anyway, it remains an issue if you’re a member of the camp that wants to reduce CO2 emissions NOW.

One possibility to greatly reduce emissions in biomass energy production is algal synthesis.  MBD Energy is currently working on pilots to turn power plant CO2 emissions into oil, feedstock and water.  The development hurdles are enormous but potentially do-able.

Professor Chris Rhodes of the U. K. had these observations about algae:

Nonetheless, there is a consortium (National Algae Association) in the U.S. that is actively seeking a future in which algae are grown on a large scale and converted to oil-alternative fuels. Certainly, it is likely that algae will become an essential component of the mix of means to keep transportation going by means other than crude oil.

The claims of the NAA are undoubtedly true, that ultimately the supply of petroleum must decline, oil prices will continue to be volatile with knife-edge consequences for the world economy, and a wholesale industry based on algae would provide precious and needed jobs and economic development in the U.S. The approach could be introduced on necessary levels for all nations and even a village “pressure cooker” to provide algal fuels for small communities.

More news at 11 . . . . .

Puget Sound Tree Farm Certified by Forest Stewardship Council

Over the Summer and Fall of 2010, Cascadia assisted in the preparation of a Forest Stewardship Plan for Ueland Tree Farm in Kitsap County near Bremerton, Washington.  Cascadia provided spatial data analysis, mapping and editing services for this project.  The plan was ultimately certified by the Forest Stewardship Council which defines the gold standard in forest stewardship.  Ueland Tree Farm is commended for their long term vision for forest sustainability.

Conservation Easement Protects Critical Salmon Habitat

The Mountaineers Foundation and Ueland Tree Farm capped-off the year with an agreement over a conservation easement that was donated by Ueland Tree Farm.  Cascadia provided geographic information services as well as support to legal staff for the easement.

Jamie Gordon, current President of the Mountaineers provided these comments in a press release:

The Mountaineers Foundation is pleased to announce the acceptance of a gift of a conservation easement from Ueland Tree Farm, LLC protecting approximately 100 acres of critical watershed near Chico and Lost Creeks in perpetuity. The conservation areas are in the northern portion of the Ueland Tree Farm property in central Kitsap County and borders the Mountaineers “Rhododendron Preserve”. The easements include critical portions of the Lost Creek and Chico Creek watersheds. This generous gift ensures that riparian zones adjacent to these watercourses in the Rhododendron Preserve, near the Mountaineers Forest Theater, are preserved in perpetuity and is another step toward ensuring the long term health of these important salmon-bearing stream systems. The agreement also includes an option for the Foundation to purchase 68 acres of Ueland’s property as an addition to the Preserve.

“We first approached Craig Ueland about purchasing this acreage when Ueland Tree Farm acquired the property as part of its larger purchase of over 1,700 acres in 2004,” says James Gordon, President of the Mountaineers Foundation. “The protection afforded these areas demonstrates Ueland Tree Farm’s commitment to environmentally responsible management of their property. We have continually had a positive relationship with Craig Ueland and his associates, and we hope to continue it in the future. I believe there is still more opportunity for mutual benefit as we work with our neighbor in conserving the natural beauty of the Preserve.”

“The Chico Creek basin is a special place, one that deserves to be protected for future generations,” added Craig Ueland, Managing Member of Ueland Tree Farm, LLC. “As a major landowner in the watershed, we take our stewardship responsibilities seriously and are honored to join with the Mountaineers Foundation to preserve this property.”

The 360-acre Rhododendron Preserve in central Kitsap County is one of the largest remaining examples of Puget Sound lowland old-grow forest in the Puget Sound basin. The property surrounds the Mountaineers’ beautiful outdoor Kitsap Forest Theater and historic Kitsap Cabin. These places provide opportunities for recreation, education, and conservation of our irreplaceable Pacific Northwest environment. The Mountaineers Foundation is proud of our stewardship of these magnificent places. Your support is welcomed. More information is available at http://mountaineersfoundation.org.

Ueland Tree Farm owns over 2,000 acres in Kitsap County, most of which is located just west of Kitsap Lake. This property is bordered by the City of Bremerton watershed to the South and West, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources to the Northwest, and the Mountaineers Foundation to the North. Ueland Tree Farm occupies nearly 20 percent of the Chico Creek watershed, which supports Kitsap County’s largest salmon run. The tree farm has been used to provide logs and other natural resource products to the Kitsap community for over 100 years. The tree farm also contains large deposits of mineral resources (gravel and hard rock). Ueland Tree Farm is heavily used by the public for a variety of informal recreation activities including walking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and hunting. More information is available at http://www.uelandtreefarm.com.