Representatives of government agencies and private industry met in Laramie Tuesday to begin a three-day conference regarding the management of Wyoming’s biomass.

Carson Engelskirger of the Wyoming State Forestry Division says the conference will run through Thursday at the UW Conference Center with an aim of developing an action plan to expand a sustainable forest biomass industry in Wyoming.

“We have an abundance of dead trees on the surrounding forest throughout Wyoming following the pine beetle,” says Engelskirger. “We have increased wildfire activity in the summers, and so is there a balance here that we can do to utilize this resource before it burns up?”

According to a U.S. Forest Service press release, conference participants include land management agencies, forest industry representatives, state and local governments, power companies, county commissioners, conservation districts, and institutions that may use biomass in the future.

Engelskirger says expanding the biomass industry in Wyoming is mainly an economic question.

“We live in a state where you have abundant oil and gas and coal,” says Engelskirger. “You have biomass which is competing with that and it’s just… it’s a tough sell right now.”

“It’s something that we need to look at for the long term, but how it fits in in the short term is kind of a challenge,” says Engelskirger.

The conference is sponsored by Governor Matt Mead, the Wyoming State Forestry Division, the Society of American Foresters and the U.S. Forest Service.

The conference was recommended by a task force Governor Matt Mead created in 2013 to consider new strategies for forest management. The final report compiled by the task force recommended a focus on expanding a sustainable, long-term forest biomass program in Wyoming.

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