Hurricane Katrina Forest Recovery

As we work together to tackle the historic challenge that Hurricane Katrina has presented to the forestry communities of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, we hope that this blog will be a valuable resource and tool.

Monday, November 28

Katrina Organics/Biomass Summit -- Jackson, MS -- December 6-7, 2005

The debris stream from Hurricane Katrina in the three Mississippi coastal counties consists of 65% structural debris and 35% vegetative/timber debris. Inland of the three coastal counties, the debris mix consists of 90% vegetative/timber debris and 10% structural debris (FEMA/USACE estimates). Katrina was still rated a Category I hurricane well over 100 miles inland of the coast and decimated much of the State’s southern forest lands. Initial estimates placed the volume of damaged timber in MS from Katrina at approximately 25% of the annual U.S. production, or approximately 19 billion board feet. There are many reasons to recover this organic material and to do so as expeditiously as possible, not the least of which is the need to minimize the environmental threat of catastrophic forest fires in the near future.

U.S. EPA Region 4, in collaboration with the Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC), Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), and Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce (MDAC), has organized an Organics/Biomass Summit to address the many issues that the State faces in regard to the vegetative/timber debris on the ground. The Summit will be held in Jackson, MS on December 6-7, 2005. Since Hurricane Katrina made landfall on August 29, 2005, many local, State and federal government agencies, as well as other entities, have been working on a variety of issues involving management of the unprecedented amount of organic materials/biomass left behind. This Summit will seek to compliment those efforts by providing additional expertise, valuable input, ideas and viable options that the State can consider while moving forward.

The two-day, facilitated Summit will be a working meeting to address the State's needs and concerns pertaining to a variety of issues involving management of the huge amounts of organic materials/biomass. This gathering is intended as an initial step toward providing the State with adequate insight and expertise in order to identify options and to determine directions in which to proceed. The number of invited Summit participants must be kept to a minimum due to limited available meeting space and to facilitate the most productive meeting possible. Where practicable, experts representing associations have been invited in lieu of individual companies. All participants are being asked to focus their expertise on the concerns and needs of the State. Because this Summit is not intended as a commercial gathering and is by invitation only, please do not invite others who are not listed on the "To" e:mail address line of this correspondence without first discussing their participation with one of the Summit organizing entities listed below. This Summit is intended to provide the State with knowledge, options and overall general direction assistance, with the detailed "nuts & bolts" to be addressed afterward by the individual workgroups that will be formed during the Summit.

Tentative Agenda Time Line (more details to follow next week):
Tuesday, December 6, 2005, 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Robert E. Lee Building, Jackson, MS
Wednesday, December 7, 2005, 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Robert E. Lee Building, Jackson, MS
Thursday, December 8, 2005, 8:00 a.m. to ? p.m. (optional) - Field visits to southern Miss sites

Areas of Concern/Need and Potential Workgroup Areas of Focus:
reducing the likelihood of forest fires
preventing long-term "abandonment" of chipped wood piles
assisting private land owners
economics - job creation, revenue, commerce
funding and contractual issues
logistics/transportation issues
bioenergy: potential technologies - feasibility; practicality; sustainability
infrastructure development and planning for long-term organic materials management
composting, land application, GreenScapes opportunities
regulatory/statutory issues - areas of potential flexibility or change

Currently-Invited Participants:
Alabama Department of Environmental Management
American Forest & Paper Association
America’s Fund for Communities
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Garick Corporation
Gulf Coast Community Foundation
Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality
Louisiana State University
Mississippi Office of the Governor
Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce
Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality
Mississippi Forestry Association
Mississippi Forestry Commission
Mississippi State University
Pat Harrison Waterway District
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
U.S. Composting Council
USDA Forest Service
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
U.S. Department of Energy
U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (OAR; OPEI; ORD; OSW; Region 4; Region 6)

Lodging Information:
Jamison Inn & Suites (601-206-8923) in north Jackson has a block of 25+ rooms at the rate of $72/night. Reference "Cindy Blaszak" to confirm the rate.
For other issues or inquiries regarding lodging in Jackson, please contact Cindy Blaszak, Joint Field Office (JFO) housing coordinator, at 601-965-2555 (JFO) or 601-818-6379 (cell).

Jamison Inn & Suites
Steve Bond, Manager
585 E. Beasley Road
Exit 102-B off I-55 North
Jackson, Mississippi

If Flying:
Jackson can be expensive to fly into and out of. Typically, less expensive options include airports in Memphis (<3 hour drive to north Jackson), Gulfport-Biloxi (3 hours), New Orleans (3 hours) or Mobile (probably a bit more than 3 hours). Birmingham, AL is about a 4-hour drive to Jackson. Atlanta is a 6-hour drive to Jackson.

Summit Organizers - Contact Information:
EPA Region 4, RCRA Programs Branch
Davy Simonson, 404-562-8457

Mississippi Forestry Commission
Jimmy Mordica, 601-359-2817

Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality
Billy Warden, 601-961-5047
Mark Williams, 601-961-5304

Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce
Jim Lipe, 601-359-1135


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