Fuel Reduction Project Benefits More than the Forest

Forest area before fuel reduction work was done.

Forest area before fuel reduction work was done.

Fuel Reduction – Good for the Forest and Good for Neighbors

Sometimes an idea expands to provide more benefit than the original plan. This is what happened when a wildfire fuel reduction project ended up providing help for those struggling to heat their homes.

Last December, local landowner David Bugni came to the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District with an idea. A fuel reduction grant was available to help prevent wildfires in and around the District’s 315-acre community forest. This project included helping the neighboring forest land properties. The District was eligible to apply for the grant and Bugni offered to work with the neighboring forest owners. The partners agreed and submitted a successful grant application.

Forest area after fuel reduction work was done.

Forest area after fuel reduction work was done.

In-Kind Donations Helped “Fuel” the Grant

To date, fuel reduction work on 60 acres of the 100 acres included in the grant is completed. The grant agreement required the District and neighboring landowners to pledge $17,000 in cash or in-kind work to match the funding. To reach this goal, contributions included labor hours and cash. However, in the case of two landowners, acceptable firewood for donation fulfilled the last of the match requirement. “I am pleased to be in a position to donate to others through this project.” said one of the contributing landowners. “I am also thankful to Dave Bugni for coordinating, and the contractor who cut up all of the wood for donation.”

Jason Faucera is the Working Lands Program Manager for Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District. He stated, “It is always nice to see cleared material used to offset the cost of the project or left for wildlife habitat. It is great to see the excess wood change from a problem to an asset for families in need of fuel for heat.” Faucera went on to say, “Projects like this can create multiple benefits. Through Mr. Bugni’s organization of firewood donation, people benefit in ways that go beyond the main goals of the project.”

The donation of firewood is a great benefit to the local community. A total of ten cords of firewood will go to the Estacada Area Food Bank. Mary Ann Bugni, a volunteer and board member, and her husband Dave haul in ¾ cord of wood to the food bank each week. According to Carlos Romero, Executive Director of the Estacada Area Food Bank, the donation is unusual, but not unheard of. “This is a win-win situation and a blessing for the community,” said Romero. “Heat is a fundamental need. In some cases, elderly residents who come to get food can also easily access firewood to heat their homes. This helps them stay afloat in a time of rising costs.”

Another contributing party to this project was Biohabitats Inc. This company is a restoration contractor that performed most of the fuel reduction work on the forest land. Biohabitats, Inc. contributes 1% of its profits to environmental and charitable organizations. In this project, they donated their time to cut logs meant for the food bank into 16-inch lengths. They also hauled the cut wood to the Bugni’s property and stacked it to be ready for delivery.

Biohabitats Inc. is an international company that has an operation in the Portland area. This company is a certified member of 1% for the Planet. That means that they give 1% of their profits to help fund diverse environmental organizations and charitable groups. They also hold a B-Corp Certification. This designation confirms that a business is meeting a high standard of verified performance, accountability, and transparency. These certifications provide recognition and promotion for companies that want to give back to their communities.

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Clackamas SWCD