BACKUS - Within the 2008 federal bailout bill was a provision to extend payments to local governments from funds the U.S. Forest Service generates.
Cass County Chief Financial Officer Larry Wolfe and Land Commissioner Norm Moody outlined changes from a previous federal bill that paid part of federal forest receipts to county highway department and schools within federal forest boundaries. Cass lies within the Chippewa National Forest.
The newly approved provision is expected to increase each of the next four years the amount Cass is scheduled to receive from just under $250,000 to nearly $500,000 per year. A portion of that money will go toward qualifying road projects within the federal forest.
The board voted to shift to be paid under a different section of the federal law to qualify for a larger share of these funds during the next four years.
Cass County recently completed a Forest Stewardship Council/SmartWood audit, qualifying the county to continue to sell timber as a sustainable resource and to continue certifying county wood under SmartWood certification.
Moody told the board this makes a major difference in how marketable the county's wood is today. Many papermakers do not buy wood today that cannot be certified as being from sustainable forests, he said.
The board approved a pre-application process for Sawyer and Sons Timber Chipping to seek a $229,341 grant to purchase two chippers. If successful, the Backus-based Sawyer Timber Co. will use and make available to other area loggers two chippers to use in cleaning logging sites after timber is cut.
Sawyer expects the project will create nine new jobs if the grant and chipper purchases are completed, with the end goal of removing sawdust piles and small diameter, low value trees from logging sites, which can be used then for biomass fuel production.
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