12th District legislators sponsor Methow Valley biochar project

Following discussions in recent years with C6 Forest to Farm, a federally recognized 501(c)3 nonprofit in the Methow Valley, the 12th District lawmakers have agreed to support the organization by seeking funding for a biochar demonstration project.

Biochar is a charcoal-like product produced through pyrolysis, a process that superheats biomass without burning. C6 Forest to Farm is planning a demonstration project to produce biochar from excess forest waste to reduce risk of wildfire, improve soil in agricultural lands, and sequester carbon.

Wildfires have had a devastating impact on North Central Washington, including in the Methow Valley. The local legislators recognize that engaging in responsible forest management practices to clear small-diameter trees, woody debris, and logging slash throughout timberlands can help significantly reduce wildfire risk.

The 12th District legislators have requested $160,000 in the 2021-2023 state operating budget, a relatively modest amount, to assist C6 Forest to Farm for work toward a biochar research and demonstration project and initial efforts toward full-size operation of an industrial-sized facility in the Methow Valley. For more information, see C6 Forest to Farm.

What Supporters are Saying

“Conversion of excess biomass into biochar designed for specific benefits is rapidly gaining attention, particularly for its potential to sequester significant amounts of carbon. Our legislators’ support will allow C6 Forest to Farm to move forward rapidly with research on designing biochars made from local forest waste materials for a range of valuable products. Such research lays the groundwork for productively using the excess forest fuels that feed extreme, destructive wildfires.”

Tom McCoy, Executive Director, C6 Forest to Farm

“C6’s approach is to establish local infrastructure to cleanly and efficiently process forest waste materials into “biochar” (a scientifically produced charcoal). Biochar production offers the opportunity to sequester about half the carbon contained in the forest waste materials, with little CO2 release, and produces a highly stable soil amendment that can significantly increase crop yields by helping to improve our agricultural soil health. Biochar, contained in the soil, is an enormous asset for our farms. C6’s efforts will create good jobs and spinoff economic development in rural areas. To me, this is a win-win for the environment and our economy.”

John Willett, Founding Board Member, C6 Forest to Farm

“I’m excited to support this effort and first learned of C6 from Tom and Gina McCoy in 2019 during a listening tour stop in Twisp. This demonstration project makes sense on many levels and could have big benefits if it proves successful. I’m glad it is gaining support.”

Brad Hawkins, State Senator, 12th District

“I appreciate all of the hard work being done to pursue this very worthwhile investment in our forest health through the use of biochar. I look forward to supporting this budget proviso in the House.”

Mike Steele, State Representative, 12th District

“This is a worthwhile and innovative project using our forest resources. With the potential benefits of biochar to forest health and agriculture it is promising to see this happening right here in the 12th District.”

Keith Goehner, State Representative, 12th District