Jobs are the number one talking point as Oregon Congressman Greg Walden comes to Central Oregon Wednesday. He will have a roundtable discussion with local elected officials and the Bend Chamber of Commerce. Then on Thursday, Walden will tour Pacific Pellet in Redmond as an example of a renewable energy industry, which can also help forest health: “We see the opportunity as looking bright. One of the limitations for us and anyone in the renewable field is the availability of biomass. We are a depending on a lot of the forest stewardship type bids throughout the Deschutes and Ochocos and the availability of biomass.”
Pacific Pellet President Mark Stapleton is going to be asking Walden to look seriously at re-starting a USDA "B" Cap Program. That program provides government help to help get biomass material out of the forest. Since lumber mills have slowed production, Stapleton says that has decreased supply of raw materials and they need more biomass material directly from the forest. Advocates of biomass say increasing forest fuel thinning operations would provide more biomass, more jobs, and improve forest health.