Green Horizons Newsletter - AgEBB

Green Horizons

Volume 14, Number 2
Spring 2010

Seven Missouri Schools Get Fuels for Schools Grants
Joe Jerek, Missouri Department of Conservation

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service’s State & Private Forestry program, recently awarded almost $6 million in grants to seven public school districts for “Fuels for Schools” projects. The grants are being funded through The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

“Fuels for Schools funds will help these schools and school districts install and operate boiler systems that use woody biomass from local public and private forest land to heat and/or cool their facilities,” explained grant administrator John Tuttle, forestry field programs supervisor for the MDC. “Missourians care about conserving our forests, fish and wildlife. This technology will help these schools reduce dependence on fossil fuels,reduce energy costs, create or retain local jobs and support healthy forests and the state’s forest industry.”

Tuttle noted that conservation pays by enriching our economy and quality of life. He gave the example of Missouri’s forest products industry, which generates more than $5 billion in economic activity each year and supports more than 30,000 jobs.

“The Fuels for Schools projects will help create a stronger market for woody material historically considered waste, such as unhealthy or small-diameter trees and wood debris left from logging,” he added. “These forest products currently have little or no commercial value so the Fuels for Schools projects can provide micro-markets for wood chips produced from them.”

Tuttle explained the projects also will support forest health, a key part of the MDC’s mission, by making it economical to thin overcrowded forest stands and remove diseased and insect-infested trees.

He added that the projects also can serve as examples to other schools, businesses and government agencies interested in wood-fueled energy systems.

Tuttle said that similar efforts in other states have proved successful. Missouri’s projects will be based on the Fuels for Schools and Beyond program. This partnership between the USDA Forest Service and several western states promotes the use of forest biomass waste for heating, cooling and power in public and private buildings. According to the Fuels for Schools and Beyond website (, fuel cost savings for projects that have replaced natural gas boiler systems have averaged at 25 percent while facilities replacing fuel oil systems have enjoyed savings of 50-75 percent.

The MDC mailed grant solicitations to public schools in the state’s most heavily forested counties: Barry, Bollinger, Butler, Carter, Crawford, Dent, Douglas, Howell, Iron, Madison, Oregon, Ozark, Perry, Phelps, Pulaski, Reynolds, Ripley, Shannon, Stone, Taney, Texas, Washington, Wayne and Wright.

A multi-agency selection committee reviewed grant applications. Committee partners are MDC, USDA Forest Service/Mark Twain National Forest, Top of the Ozarks Resource Conservation and Development Council, Big Springs Resource Conservation and Development Council, Missouri Department of Natural Resources Energy Division, Missouri Forest Products Association and the University of Missouri Extension-Forestry.

The committee selected grant recipients based on economic needs, dependence on the forest products industry, project feasibility and the ability to implement the project quickly, proximity to public and private forestland and partnerships with other public entities that could benefit from the biomass energy system.

Grant recipients and amounts are:
Southern Reynolds County R-II School District: $970,000
Perry County 32 School District: $970,000
Steelville R-III School District (Crawford County): $900,000
Rolla 31 School District Junior High Building (Phelps County): $760,000
Gainesville R-V School District (Ozark County): $970,000
Eminence R-I Elementary (Shannon County): $350,000
Mountain View-Birch Tree Liberty High School (Howell County): $850,000

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