The federal government is placing greater emphasis on thinning vegetation on public lands to reduce the risk of wildland fire. To help defray the cost of thinning efforts, it also is seeking to stimulate a market for the resulting material, including the smaller trees, limbs, and brush--referred to as woody biomass--that traditionally have had little or no commercial value. As GAO has reported in the past, the increased use of woody biomass faces obstacles, including the high cost of harvesting and transporting it and an unpredictable supply in some locations. Nevertheless, some entities, such as schools and businesses, are utilizing the material, potentially offering insights for broadening its use. GAO agreed to (1) identify key factors facilitating the use of woody biomass among selected users, (2) identify challenges these users have faced in using woody biomass, and (3) discuss any insights that these findings may offer for promoting greater use of woody biomass. In responding to a draft of this report, the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, and the Interior all generally agreed with GAO's findings.
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