Exciting News! The National Park Service awarded Sierra Institute the Wes Henry Excellence in Wilderness Stewardship Award, in the “External Partner” category, for our Wilderness Fuels Module Crew's work in Lassen National Park. Check out the Video Here.

Indian Valley Wood Products Campus

Removal Action Workplan documents at the end of this page.


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.

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MAY 7TH, 2020
The historic LP sawmill site in Crescent Mills, CA is one step closer to a new life as an innovative wood products campus largely in part of continued support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Brownfield Program.
The Sierra Institute is excited to announce that we have recently been awarded funding from the U.S. EPA to continue remediation efforts at Crescent Mills!
In September 2019 the Sierra Institute initiated Phase I remediation ("cleanup") efforts and made significant progress despite threats from the Walker Fire and unforeseen circumstances with on-site fill as a result of the old sawmill operations. The project team worked hard over the winter to reassess the situation and plan for the continuation of cleanup efforts this summer.
The additional funding from the U.S. EPA will enable near full remediation of the old mill site, hastening the development of wood utilizing businesses and leading to a multitude of socioeconomic and ecological benefits for Indian Valley and beyond.


Project Spotlight

The 2019/2020 winter season marked the beginning of a wood chip operation at the Indian Valley Wood Products Campus. Roughly 3,000 cubic yards of chips were obtained from a variety of sources including post-fire recovery efforts within the 2018 Camp Fire footprint and a wildland urban interface (WUI) hazardous fuels reduction project in Butterfly Valley.

Approximately half of these chips were used to fuel the biomass boiler at the Plumas County Human Health and Services Center, the remaining chips will be dried and stored for use in next year's operations. A special thanks to our collaborators; local contractor J&C Trucking, Plumas Fire Safe Council, and the USFS for supporting the advancement of biomass utilization in Plumas County. 

To read more about how Sierra Institute is working with local partners to support hazardous fuel reduction and biomass utilization read our blog “Harnessing the Power of Hazardous Fuels” here.

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):