ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Two partners of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests were awarded grants under the Wood Innovations Grants Program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The program looks at ways companies, organizations, and universities can stimulate and expand wood products and the wood energy markets. It focuses on mass timber, renewable wood energy, and technological development.

In Blacksburg, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University was awarded $228,700 for its work in creating structural grade hardwood lumber. The university worked with the hardwood industry to help create new markets and increase the use of low-value hardwood from public and private forestlands.

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) also received $250,000 to expand new markets for biochar through collaboration and project demonstrations.

According to the release, “Biochar is a stable carbon product produced from biomass sources like wood chips and plant residues.”

“I’m pleased to see grants awarded to two partners of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests,” said Forest Supervisor Joby Timm. “These wood product research and development grants can stimulate economic development opportunities.”

You can learn more about these projects and the program on the Forest Service Wood Innovations Program website.