Monday, June 25, 2012

WUPPDR offers land consultations for UP biofuel initiative

HOUGHTON -- Landowners with 20 or more acres in Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Iron, and Ontonagon Counties who would be interested in growing biofuel crops on their land are encouraged to contact the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region (WUPPDR) for a free land consultation.

Last week, WUPPDR sponsored a free workshop for landowners in the five-county target area through a grant provided by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and assistance from the Community Adjustment and Investment Program.

The workshop, organized by WUPPDR, focused on the opportunities for area landowners to turn their idle land into income-producing biofuel cropland through research provided by Robert Froese, Michigan Tech School of Forestry. In addition, Roger Woods from the Michigan Tech School of Business and Economics educated landowners on the benefits of forming a cooperative in the five-county focus area. Zach Halkola from Traxys Power was also on hand to present the successes of the L’Anse Warden Electric Company and White Pine Electric Power.

To encourage landowner participation in the UP biofuel initiative, WUPPDR has hired a forestry technician, Spencer Townsend, to conduct a free land consultation with interested landowners. The site visit will include an assessment of the land, which will help generate a cost estimate to clear, plant, and maintain the land for biofuel crops. As part of the assessment, Townsend will take GPS points of the land, make notes on the existing vegetation and species composition, test the soil pH, and look for potential slope, access, and watershed issues. Once this information is collected, he will also meet with the landowner to discuss the management practices of the land, their goals for the land, and their interest in a biofuel crop cooperative.

Landowners interested in the consultation are encouraged to sign up at or to call 906.482.7205, ext. 321. They will be assisted on a first-come, first-serve basis until mid-August.

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