U & M Program


Noteworthy Newsflashes

Newell Sells Diamond Brand Wood Products and Cloquet Mill Closes

By Kristen Bergstrand, Utilization and Marketing Coordinator, Division of Forestry, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

May 4, 2017 (Pine Journal)—Newell acquired the Cloquet specialty mill from Jarden Home Brands just a year ago but announced in early May it had sold the Diamond brand, which includes products like wood matches and toothpicks. Newell sold the business to Georgia-based Royal Oak Enterprises LLC, which decided to not include the Cloquet mill in the sales agreement to purchase the Diamond brand. Wood products have been produced in the Cloquet mill for more than a century. Newell will close the Cloquet mill in the next six months and 85 people will lose jobs.

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NRRI Small Business Grant Assistance Available

By Kristen Bergstrand, Utilization and Marketing Coordinator, Division of Forestry, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

April 26, 2017 (University of Minnesota Duluth Natural Resources Research Institute)—There is a new opportunity for small business research and development assistance in Itasca County, plus the rural communities of Hill City, Remer, Blackduck and Northome. Successful applicants to the Business Assistance Fund supported by the Blandin Foundation will first receive assistance from the Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) and hands-on technical research assistance from the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI). Awards range from $500 - $25,000 and need to be matched by the applicant.

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Other current funding opportunities under the NRRI Business Assistance Fund is a grant program provided by the USDA's State Wood Innovation Team Grant: This is a limited funding opportunity for innovations in the forest products industry. It supports small businesses to develop ideas that will increase the use of low value wood in areas of high wildfire risk, reducing the cost of forest management. 
To apply for the grant visit the website. For more information visit the website This link leads to an external site. or contact Shima Hosseinpour 218-788-2626 or shhoss@d.umn.edu


Benson Power Faces Closure

By Kristen Bergstrand, Utilization and Marketing Coordinator, Division of Forestry, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

April 26, 2017 (Minnesota Public Radio News)—Benson Power, formerly known as Fibrominn, a pioneer in generating power from combusting turkey manure biomass, could be affected by legislation introduced in the 2017 session. The 50 megawatts of power produced annually could be at risk because Excel Energy has pursued legislative action to renegotiate or terminate the last 10 years of a 20 year agreement. The agreement originated with a 1994 legislative mandate requiring Excel to generate 125 megawatts annually of biomass energy for 20 years with the tradeoff that Excel could store radioactive nuclear waste in above-ground dry cask storage at their Prairie Island plant. The communities and business that could be affected by changes in the biomass mandate agreement are concerned about negative economic impacts.

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Proposed Federal Legislation the Timber Innovation Act of 2017

By Kristen Bergstrand, Utilization and Marketing Coordinator, Division of Forestry, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

March 19, 2017 (MiBiz)—Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow was one author of the new attempt at a bill to promote mass timber construction in the U.S. The bill, nicknamed the Timber Innovation Act of 2017, would increase U.S. Forest Service funding for development and research of "innovative wood products" targeting the use of advanced wood products in mid to high rise buildings. The legislation's funding would support the USFS's Tall Wood Building Contest and establish funding for the wood innovation grant program. Most tall timber construction has taken place outside the U.S., primarily in Canada and Europe. Similar legislation was introduced last year but did not pass. The wood products industry could be a key in helping develop more rural jobs utilizing innovation such as tall timber construction. There are plans to include this funding in the 2018 U.S. farm bill if the legislation does not pass this session.

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Goodhue County Minnesota placed under emergency EAB quarantine

By Don Deckard, Forest Economist, Division of Forestry, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

March 6, 2017 (postbulletin.com)—The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (USDA) has placed Goodhue County under an emergency quarantine after emerald ash borer (EAB) was found in the city of Red Wing. During a hike over the weekend at Barn Bluff, an MDA employee noticed an ash tree with significant woodpecker damage, a tell-tale sign of possible emerald ash borer infestation. She took photos of the tree and noted the location. After further investigation, the MDA found EAB larvae in the tree. The USDA on Friday officially confirmed the insect to be emerald ash borer. Because this is the first time EAB has been identified in Goodhue County, the MDA is enacting an emergency quarantine to limit the movement of firewood and ash material out of the county to help reduce the risk of further spreading the tree-killing insect. Fourteen other Minnesota counties are under quarantine to prevent the spread of the emerald ash borer.

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