Workshop to be held on proposed bioenergy facility

North Fork facility to be discussed during day-long April 2 workshop and March 28 Town Hall meeting

-- Yosemite/Sequoia Resource Conservation and Development CouncilMarch 20, 2013 

A free public workshop regarding North Fork's proposed bioenergy facility, to be built on the old mill site, will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday, April 2 at the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians' Community Center, 56900 Kuhugib Road in North Fork.

The workshop is being held by the North Fork Community Development Council in partnership with the Yosemite/Sequoia Resource Conservation and Development Council.

"This project is a strategic step to producing green energy and finding economic uses for biomass material ," said Dan Rosenberg, president of the North Fork Community Development Council. "Additionally, it is an important step towards redeveloping the mill site and restoring the town's economy."

"As the first community-scale forest bioenergy project in California, this project is being viewed as a potential model for like-communities throughout the Sierra," said Steve Haze, executive director of the Yosemite/ Sequoia Resource Conservation and Development Council. "Successfully finding economic uses for small scale woody debris from our forests has the potential to increase fire safety, improve ecological conditions and support local economies. These efforts are being supported in partnership with the Sierra Nevada Conservancy."

The workshop will include detailed presentations about technical aspects of the planned bioenergy facility; will allow ample time for questions and discussions; and will include a field trip -- visiting the local forest to view conditions and discuss how biomass harvesting can assist forest restoration efforts, and visiting the North Fork mill site, to view the location where the facility will be built.

The one megawatt bioenergy facility is estimated to produce enough power to supply 750 to 1,000 homes by converting woody biomass into biogas. Construction is anticipated to begin early next year and continue through 2014, utilizing approximately three of the 135 acres on the site.

The project is in the third and fourth phase of five phases. Currently, phase three -- design and engineering -- is wrapping up. Simultaneously, phase four includes the environmental planning process and obtaining permits. An application was submitted to Madera County for a conditional use permit last week.

"The April 2 workshop will be the second of its kind," said Brittany Dyer, program development manager of the Yosemite/Sequoia Resource Conservation and Development Council. "The first was held in November, 2012, at which time more than 50 people gathered to learn about the project and participate in a technical question and answer session. Attendees included local community members, county officials, utility companies and environmental groups."

Those interested in attending should RSVP as soon as possible to bdmillsite@gmail.com.

North Fork's bioenergy facility will also be discussed at District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler's North Fork Town Hall meeting at 6 p.m., Thursday, March 28, also at the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians' Community Center.

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