Indian Valley Wood Utilization Campus


To further respond to declining forest health, high risk of catastrophic wildfire, and poor socioeconomic conditions in a community that has historically had a strong presence of the timber industry, the Sierra Institute is working to redevelop an old sawmill site to a wood products campus in Crescent Mills. This campus will consist of a variety of businesses that generate value-added products out of small-diameter trees and other woody biomass.

Potential businesses include a small-scale bioenergy facility, processed wood chips for use in biomass boilers, mass timber production, packaged and dried firewood, soil amendments, and more.

This campus will provide direct benefits to communities and forests of Plumas County as it will develop a market for small-diameter trees and forest restoration byproducts. Sufficient processing infrastructure and a strengthened market for forest biomass will allow for increased pace and scale of forest restoration activities in Plumas County and the Upper Feather River Watershed. At full build-out, this campus could generate between 15-30 industry jobs for local residents.

Indian Valley Wood Utilization Campus PFD_Color

Rural Brownfield Redevelopment

Screen Shot 2020-05-04 at 2.12.31 PM Aerial view of the historic Crescent Mills sawmill.
KIMG0917 One of two large scrapers used to excavate and place the soil cap.
KIMG0882 Sierra Institute staff and EPA Grant Administrator walk the site during initial days of cleanup activities.
KIMG0975 Hydromulch (green) in place to winterize the site after the end of 2019 operating season.
IMG_9719 The Crescent Mills site prior to the initiation of cleanup activities.

As part of our efforts to advance the development of the Indian Valley  Wood Products Campus in Crescent Mills, the Sierra Institute has been navigating the pre-development hurdles associated with brownfield redevelopment and liability for the past five/six years. A number of site assessments have performed, demonstrating that there is some contamination soil–a typical scenario of any abandoned sawmill site. 

In September 2019 Sierra Institute initiated Phase I remediation ("cleanup") efforts focusing on three, 2-3 acre units located on the western portion of the site. Work completed to date includes excavation and on-site relocation of approximately 14,000 cubic yards (cy) of stockpiled wood waste, excavation of 2,000 cy of clean on-site fill from areas beneath the former stockpiles and placement over contaminated areas. The site was stabilized for the 2019/2020 winter season using hydro mulch, an environmentally friendly erosion control temporary ground cover. Additional clean fill material has been identified on-site and is scheduled to be placed during the summer of 2020.

The Sierra Institute is working closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Plumas County to advance cleanup efforts and ensure the site is safe prior to redevelopment.

Removal Action Workplan (August 2019):