Many of California’s rural, forested communities face extreme challenges associated with poor socioeconomic conditions and the increasing threat of catastrophic wildfire. The Sierra Institute’s Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) is a three year project geared to address these challenges. Through RCDI, the Sierra Institute provides organizational and technical capacity building assistance to nine community organizations working on forest biomass utilization projects. Some of these projects aim to produce thermal heat via boilers, others hope to build combined heat and power plants, and others are working to create value-added wood products. Although the end products of these projects vary from baseball bats to electricity, they are unified by a common goal: healthier environments and stronger communities.
RCDI is building the organizational capacity of these recipients based on their individual assets and needs. This work includes building partnerships, establishing management and financial systems, facilitating organizational strategic planning, and developing fundraising strategies.
Specific technical assistance that is provided to the recipients includes: education on biomass utilization opportunities, training in community outreach and engagement, guidance on engaging project partners, assistance in contracting pre-development consultants, and support in securing funding and capital investments. This technical assistance allows the recipients to overcome identified barriers and realize success.
Much of the Sierra Institute’s work with these communities is done in collaboration with CA’s State Wood Energy Team and the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. This partnership works with public bodies, tribal groups, non-profit organizations, and underserved communities in rural, forested regions in California to develop a wide range of wood product initiatives.
Not an RCDI recipient but working on small scale forest biomass utilization? Let us know what you’re up to.
The Sierra Institute recently released a storymap depicting our biomass projects. The story makes the case for biomass utilization by providing a background on wildfire, tree mortality, active forest management, mill closures, and rural economies today. View the storymap by clicking the thumbnail below.