This assessment provides information on past and planned forest activities and their subsequent volumes of materials generated, or estimated to be generated, in the vicinity of Missoula, Montana from 2011-2013. Information is reported for forest materials and residues (i.e. slash) generated from planned timber sales and forest treatments on the following landownerships: private lands, DNRC State Trust Lands, Bureau of Land Management lands, and US Forest Service National Forestlands. Where markets exist, logging slash and non-sawlog biomass can be processed into useful products including biomass energy fuel. With no market value, excess logging slash and non-sawlog biomass are commonly disposed of in the forest through piling and open burning (after considerations for retention of organic material on forest site are met). Depending on consumer demand and market prices, trees of varying sizes and quality may be considered available biomass fiber supply.
It should be kept in mind that the estimated harvest volumes reported in this assessment are relational to the currently depressed forest products market and may be considered conservative projections of future volumes. Montana forest products saw its lowest demand on record since 1945 in 2009. This was due in part to a nationally depressed economy and a reduction in housing starts. 2010 saw an uptick in activity and markets are projected to continue to improve and stabilize as Montana mills are finding more diversified markets both domestically and abroad. Nevertheless, even considering current market conditions, estimates show ample logging residues available at currently low harvest levels. As Montana forest product markets continue to increase, we can expect even greater volumes of available residues. This assessment is intended only as a starting point for facilities and potential suppliers to use in conducting their own research, and identifying and securing their own fuel sources. Additional information on other regional biomass sources such as forest inventories, planned projects on other landownerships, and mill residues is available through other resources.