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Monday, November 17, 2008

Biomass buffers can increase farm income and much more

A media release issued by Better Environmental Solutions:

Wisconsin Dells — After record floods, Better Environmental Solutions today released a Biomass Flood Reduction Buffer Plan to help farmers restore buffers in floodplains to reduce flooding, provide biomass for power plants, increase farm income and cleaner water. Brett Hulsey, President of Better Enviro presented the plan at the annual meeting of the Wisconsin Association of Floodplain, Stormwater and Coastal Managers annual conference, “Change…How Will We Respond?” in Wisconsin Dells.

“These annual floods are tragic and biomass buffers can reduce the risk to flood victims and farmers, reduce pollution, grow fuel for power plants, and reduce the risks of extreme climate change,” said Hulsey.

Biomass buffers can also help clean up our streams and drinking water, help increase farm income, reduce crop loss and crop insurance payments, and improve habitat for people, fish and wildlife. Farmers would plant biomass buffers of native grasses like switchgrass, fast-growing willows and/or poplars to replace crops that are flooded each year. These buffers would be managed to optimize for flood protection, water quality, and biomass production for power plants and cellulosic ethanol production.

“We know buffers provide wildlife habitat, clean our water and reduce flooding,” said Tom Thrall, former state biologist of the Natural Resource Conservation Service. “The good news is that utilities and the state can contract with farmers to convert these floodplains to biomass.”

The Better Enviro analysis shows that farmers can make more from Biomass Buffers at $50/ton than with $4/bushel corn production.“We know that buffers and conservation must pay farmers, or they won’t stay,” said Hulsey. “Wisconsin has lost a higher percentage of Conservation Reserve Program lands than any other Midwest states and biomass buffers may be our best chance to protect our streams and produce fuel.”

A 2007 Better Enviro report, Cellulose Prairie, showed that Wisconsin has enough biomass to displace half its coal use, while restoring critical prairie habitat and reducing flooding. Sixty percent of Wisconsin’s renewable energy comes from biomass and wood now, 10 times more than wind and solar combined.

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Better Environmental Solutions is an energy and environmental consulting firm. Hulsey was the first non-governmental person to win FEMA’s Distinguished Public Service Award for helping people recover from floods and restoring wetland to reduce flooding. He has authored numerous reports on flood prevention like “Permitting Disaster,” “Subsidizing Disaster,” “Red River Rampage” and “Wetland Restoration in Waiting.” For more on the Biomass Buffer proposal, go to www.BetterEnviro.Com

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