Hawkins pleased Methow Valley biochar project funded in Senate budget proposal

Sen. Brad Hawkins is pleased to see support for a North Central Washington biochar project included in the Senate operating budget proposal released today.

Hawkins said the budget appropriation is the product of discussions he has had with C6 Forest to Farm, a federally recognized 501(c)3 nonprofit in the Methow Valley. Hawkins discussed the project with the organization during both his 2019 and 2020 listening tours. Representatives Mike Steele and Keith Goehner of the 12th District are also supporters of this funding request.

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

The Senate’s proposed 2021-23 operating budget includes $160,000 in funding toward a biochar research and demonstration project and initial efforts toward full-size operation of an industrial-sized facility in the Methow Valley. The budget proviso for the biochar project can be viewed here.

“I’m pleased the Senate budget proposal includes this funding and hope it will be retained in the final budget approved by the Legislature,” said Hawkins. “Our state must continue our active forest health efforts if we are ever to get in front of the growing costs of fighting wildfires. This includes strategic thinning and responsible prescribed fire. Figuring out a good way to repurpose the harvested biomass – without burning it – is definitely something that should be supported.”

Wildfires have had a devastating impact on North Central Washington. 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 Senate’s operating budget proposal will receive a public hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee tomorrow. The committee is expected to vote on the budget on March 29.

What supporters are saying

“As the Commissioner of Public Lands leading the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, I recognize the critical role this effort plays in helping meet our forest health needs. C6’s desire to turn wildfire fuels in our forests into a product with market value represents the type of innovative approach needed to move forward our forest health, public safety, and rural development goals.”

Hilary Franz, Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands

“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

The 2021 legislative session is scheduled to end April 25.