NAU pilot project tests exporting wood products via railway (and ship) to speed forest restoration
A pilot project at Camp Navajo has the potential to unlock a critical bottleneck in forest restoration and wildfire prevention efforts across northern Arizona by creating markets for restoration byproducts like wood chips from small-diameter trees.
The pilot project, led by Northern Arizona University, will test the logistics and efficacy of chipping and shipping wood products via railway transportation with the goal of expanding forest product markets domestically and internationally and accelerating forest restoration efforts.
“This collaboration is an opportunity to address forest health issues facing our region and create renewable sources of energy,” said NAU President Rita Cheng. “It is another example of the innovative ways our researchers are working together to solve critical issues facing our region, state and the world.”
The first phase of the project will take place at the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA) Camp Navajo Training Center over the course of eight days. It includes chipping 1,300 tons of small-diameter logs extracted from forest restoration projects like the Four Forest Restoration Initiative, which has struggled to find markets for the low-value wood removed from its thinning efforts. The wood chips will then be loaded onto 60 shipping containers bound for South Korea via railway and cargo ships.