Clearing the forests of dead timber has proven effective in reducing the spread of catastrophic wildfire. But can such fuel reduction also have other side benefits? Well in Darby, Montana, the answer is “yes”, as woodchips collected from massive piles of generated slash are being used to heat the nearby public school system. According to the Ravalli Republic newspaper, the private firm contracted to do the clearing of dead debris in the Bitterroot National Forest is selling the wood chips it collects for around $10 a ton to the local school system through a program called “fuels for schools.” This represents a huge savings as the typical costs are around $41 a ton. Such free market initiatives certainly deserve an “A” on any environmental report card.

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