Forestry

Red Rock Biofuels was founded, in part, to help address the growing problem of catastrophic wildfires in the Western United States. Forest fires are wreaking devastating damage on communities, costing lives, billions of dollars of losses and releasing huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Many forests are crowded with underbrush and densely stocked with small trees making them more susceptible to insect infestations and wildfires.

The images below show an unhealthy, overstocked forest prone to wildfire and insect infestation versus the same forest now cleared of ladder fuels and underbrush creating a much healthier forest.

*Photos courtesy of U.S. Forest Service.

Sustainable Forest Management


  • Growing trees and wood products store CO2 as carbon.  Through decay and forest fires, that carbon is released into the atmosphere.  Approximately 4-6% of the continental U.S.’s annual emissions of CO2 come from forest fires.
  • Thinning the undergrowth in a forest limits the ladder fuels (shrubs, lower branches and grasses) that cause a forest fire to burn hotter and destroy the tree canopy.  Local timber managers generate the pre-commercial thinnings to improve forest health and mitigate the risk of wildfires in overgrown timber stands.
  • Slash piles (waste woody biomass) are leftover tops and branches from timber harvests and would otherwise be burned as part of a standard timber harvest.
  • Through sustainable forest management, thinning of overstocked forests and conversion of waste woody biomass into renewable fuels, Red Rock seeks to reduce CO2 emissions not only from forest fires but also through the creation of low-carbon, cellulosic renewable jet and diesel fuels.  This creates a beneficial use of an otherwise wasted resource.

In using forest residuals as our feedstock, the Red Rock Biorefinery enables forest management activities that improve forest health and resilience, mitigate catastrophic wildfires, reduce emissions from wildfires and pile burning, mitigate soil erosion, and protect waterways.

“The Western forests have serious issues with wildfires, particularly on the federal lands. Despite the best efforts of the U.S. Forest Service, which spends half its annual budget on fire suppression, and other agencies, we still get these catastrophic wildfires,” CFO Jeff Manternach said. “That’s because of decades or centuries of suppression activities. Once we moved into the forests, we didn’t want them catching fire and burning down our homes, businesses and communities and so the dominant management tool is suppression. The problem is, fires are a natural part of the landscape and should come through once every 20 or 25 years. When that doesn’t happen, a tremendous load of fuel builds up on the land — and when you do get a fire, it’s an inferno.”

Forest Management

$500*

Cost of thinning one acre of overstocked forestland

Fire Fighting

$5,000*

Cost of fighting a fire on that same acre of forestland

*From Oregon Forest Resources Institute