January 2018 Chehalis Basin Partnership Presentation Topic:
Feasibility of Growing Poplar for a Hypothetical Biorefinery

The region around Lewis County was identified as having potential for a poplar tree-based bioeconomy. WSU Extension’s collaborators at the University of Washington are modeling the economic feasibility of a hypothetical refinery in Centralia, WA supplied by poplar grown within 60 miles of the site. The model assumes 34,500 acres of land (~25% of existing pasture land) could be converted. The trees could be grown by farmers as a traditional crop, by wastewater treatment plants to recycle water and nutrients, or by land managers in the floodplain.

We want to know what community members think are the practical implications for such a system “on-the-ground.” What are perceived barriers and opportunities for converting land into poplar farms? What questions or concerns would need to be addressed? How valid are the model assumptions?

Specific objectives:

  • Understand the context of the current agricultural landscape and explore values related to land use.
  • Identify perceived opportunities, challenges, and uncertainties under different poplar supply scenarios.
  • Explore the validity of assumptions made by techno-economic modeling of the potential poplar-based system.
  • Compile questions and concerns that would need to be addressed before a poplar-based biorefinery could become a realistic proposition.

Please contact Noelle Hart (noelle.hart@wsu.edu) or Patricia Townsend (patricia.townsend@wsu.edu) for more information.