North Fork has a place to stack dead trees from the surrounding forest, but for now it’s only open to Madera County and Pacific Gas & Electric.
The log deck is at the town’s former sawmill site, the future site of a small bioenergy plant. The Yosemite/Sequoia Resource Conservation and Development Council has cleared 9 acres where dead trees will be stacked.
The log deck will help reduce fire danger in the forest by taking trees felled by the county Roads Department and PG&E. Eventually, the log deck yard will take trees from private contractors and homeowners. Fees will be charged to pay for transport and labor.
Initially, it will be open three days a week.
Madera County Supervisor Tom Wheeler said capacity at the mill site, about 350 truckloads of trees, will barely scratch the surface of the need in the North Fork area.
350The capacity for the number of truckloads of wood in the log deck yard.
“We’re taking baby steps to start,” he said.
After being stacked, the trees will be trucked to a yard in Madera to be chipped and sent to the Rio Bravo biomass plant in Fresno for conversion into electricity.
Hector Lara, Rio Bravo’s fuel manager, said the company has a contract for 1,000 tons per month, about 6 percent of the wood the plant uses to produce electricity for PG&E. The log deck yard also will provide material for the North Fork Bioenergy Facility when it opens in 2017.
Material from the plant also can be used for wood chips in landscaping and for parks and recreation projects.
The facility is being operated under contract with Talley Oil of Madera.
The project was funded with grants from the State Responsibility Area fire fee and PG&E. The state grant was $99,702 and PG&E chipped in $10,000.