Seneca post and pole mill to receive grant for $572K

By on Wednesday, June 8th, 2022 in Eastern/Southeast Oregon News More Top Stories

SENECA – As part of the Wood Innovation and Community Energy grant program, Iron Triangle LLC will receive over $572,000 to help underwrite new equipment and upgrades at the Post and Pole manufacturing facility in Seneca. That includes a wood-waste powered electric plant, which reduces reliance on fossil fuels. Find the full press release below:

(Press Release from the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region)

The Secretary of Agriculture has awarded more than $4.9 million in Wood Innovation and Community Energy grants to Pacific Northwest companies, universities, and non-profit organizations working to advance and create new markets for forest products produced by forest health, wildfire risk reduction, and restoration projects in Washington and Oregon.

The grants were part of $32 million to fund the 2022 Wood Innovations and Community Wood Grants, announced May 27 by Secretary Tom Vilsack at an event in Des Moines, Iowa, funds which included $12 million from the recently-enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“Many of these projects are creating uses for small-diameter timber, or woody biomass – the smaller stuff left over from mechanical thinning for forest health and wildfire risk reduction,” said Adrian Kiser, a program assistant for the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest regional wood innovation program. “It’s currently less valuable than larger diameter timber, which means it costs us more to get rid of it. They’re creating a market for material that we otherwise have to pay someone to haul away or burn.”

The USDA Forest Service Wood Innovations Program expands and creates markets for wood products and wood energy that support long-term, sustainable management of National Forest System lands and other forest lands.

Most projects proposals for the grant programs fall in one of three categories – projects that advance the use of tall wood and mass timber construction, projects that expand the use of bio-char and wood energy projects, Kiser said.

Bio-char is a soil amendment that’s been in use by indigenous communities in the Americas for thousands of years. Carbonized pellets produced from wood, which are similar to activated charcoal, can increase the availability of carbon and other nutrients for plants while reducing bioavailability of heavy metals and other toxins in the soil. Researchers have also been investigating its potential for use in other industrial applications, and as a vehicle for carbon storage.

Mass Timber is an industry term for a wood construction products that make efficient use of small-diameter materials, resins, and lamination techniques to produce strong, lightweight, durable construction materials that many architects are exploring for both its engineering and aesthetic qualities. Tall Wood, a type of mass timber construction, uses wood-based beams and panels in lieu of steel or concrete as the primary structural element in multi-story or high-rise buildings.

Fuels and energy projects include wood-fueled heating plants, boilers, and electrical generators, creating wood pellets for high-efficiency pellet heater and stoves, and creating other wood-derived fuels such as biodiesel or wood alcohol.

“By supporting research and commercial innovation, the Forest Service is increasing the market for small-diameter wood, but it’s also doing this in ways that can help us address other environmental goals – such as making forests more resilient to climate change and reducing wildfire risk, increased carbon storage, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels. Equally important, these innovations can also bring new economic opportunities to rural communities,” Kiser said.

Pacific Northwest companies receiving Community Energy Grants include:

  • Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort, near Bend, OR, will receive $1.5 million towards the first phase of a $6.8 million project to establish a woody biomass heating system for a four-building campus at the nation’s second-largest alpine ski resort. The project will create a stable market for woody material generated by mechanical thinning and other forest health projects on the Deschutes National Forest and is expected to offset 88% of carbon emissions and 93% of the propane used by the four buildings which otherwise likely been disposed of through open-air slash pile burning.
  • Iron Triangle LLC will receive $572,170 to help underwrite new equipment and upgrades at a Post and Pole manufacturing facility in Seneca, OR, including a wood-waste powered electric plant, which reduce reliance on fossil fuels in a community not currently served by a natural gas pipeline.

Washington-based projects receiving Wood Innovation Grants include:

  • Researchers at the Composite Materials and Engineering Center (CMEC) at Washington State University in Pullman, WA. were awarded $249,954 towards development and evaluation of a more durable weatherproofing method for cross-laminated timber panels optimized for efficient integration into existing production processes.
  • Researchers from University of California Davis will receive $250,000 to formulate biochar-enhanced concrete pavers on the Washington State University campus. The pavers will be more water-permeable (allowing rapid ground infiltration of stormwater runoff and groundwater recharge), store carbon, and use less carbon-dioxide -emitting cement than traditional concrete pavers. The project includes developing a biochar production facility that will make use of a new production method developed at WSU.
  • A Seattle-based architecture firm, atelierjones LLC, will receive $250,000 towards drafting a set of urban residential building design models suitable for use in a variety of climates and seismic zones, which fully comply with the new ICC Tall Wood Building Codes, and which could potentially expand markets for “mass timber” construction materials currently being developed and produced by Pacific Northwest manufacturers.

In Oregon, Wood Innovation Grants are being awarded include several projects to develop construction methods and designs to improve economic feasibility of mass timber construction:

  • HomeWork Development received $250,000 towards development of moderate-income, family housing in Milwaukie OR.
  • CutMyTimber, a company based in Portland, OR will receive $250,000 for research and design of a modular “skeleton” system to support mass timber building plans and engineering more efficiently and at lower cost for project developers.
  • Pathhouse LLC, in Portland, OR will receive $250,000 towards the cost of developing of a modular, residential model using mass timber construction technology and methods to efficiently provide permanent, affordable single-family housing – at scale – in low-income and disaster-impacted communities.
  • Waechter Architecture, a Portland, OR-based architecture firm, will receive $124,084 to help offset costs in developing a model for “All-Wood” construction. An “All-Wood” design would greatly reduce or possibly eliminate the use of steel, concrete and non-renewable finishes like gypsum, with potential to vastly increase the amount of wood fiber used in new mass timber and tall wood projects.

Oregon-based biomass-utilization and energy projects being funded by Wood Innovation Grants include:

  • Red Rock Biofuels Holdings, Inc. in Klamath Falls, OR will receive $244,700 towards a demonstration study for to look at the feasibility of building a facility capable of converting post-fire charred waste into to aviation & renewable diesel fuels.
  • Wyeast Timber Services in Hood River, OR will receive $243,125 to improve small-diameter wood utilization from Forest Service restoration, wildfire risk reduction, and wildfire recovery projects in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Mt Hood National Forest, and Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The improvements will the company’s economic resiliency under fluctuating market conditions and support potential projects using renewable energy that may reduce the facility’s future dependence on fossil fuels.
  • Heartwood Biomass LLC. in Wallowa, OR will receive $236,740 towards installation of a biomass-fueled heat energy and biochar production facility at an existing biomass processing facility in northeast Oregon, which processes small-diameter wood produced by projects on the Umatilla and Wallow-Whitman National Forests.

Wood Innovation Grants awarded to two Oregon-based organizations will fund projects that help tell the story of wood products and wood innovation in Pacific Northwest forestry and the region’s forest products industry:

  • Sustainable Northwest will receive $250,000 to develop a “Wood Advisor” program, working with local developers to establish local wood sourcing goals and objectives for ten mass timber and sustainable building projects. The funds include research and case studies that help articulate how intentional wood sourcing can positively impact carbon, water, fire, and rural or Tribal economies.
  • The World Forestry Center will receive $249,918 towards design work for a new Forestry Experience Center in Portland, OR.

Learn more about Community Energy Grants, Wood Innovations Grants, and the Wood Innovations Program at

Washington and Oregon -based companies, Tribes, governmental and non-governmental organizations interested in more information should contact Adrian Kiser <> or Jim Archuleta <> at the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region’s State and Private Forestry office.