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Public and private initiatives are actively exploring a range of forest-based bioenergy development options in the Inland Northwest of the United States. These efforts are motivated in part by the potential to generate renewable energy while creating a market for forest residues that would facilitate hazardous fuels reduction and provide economic opportunities. Understanding stakeholders’ perspectives is critical to the feasibility and long-term viability of bioenergy projects. This study presents stakeholder perspectives on forest-based bioenergy development strategies for communities in the forested areas of Idaho, western Montana, eastern Washington, and eastern Oregon. We developed three scenarios based on bioenergy initiatives currently being explored in the region: a decentralized mobile biochar and drop-in fuel scenario, a centralized bioaviation fuel scenario, and a centralized wood pellet scenario. We then asked a range of stakeholders to identify and assess the tradeoffs they associated with each scenario during in-depth interviews. Participants were generally supportive of any viable scenario that supports forest restoration and economic development, but many favored small-scale, locally oriented bioenergy development similar to what has occurred in some rural communities related to local food systems.

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This document was originally published in Forest Science by Society of American Foresters. This work is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license. Details regarding the use of this work can be found at: doi: 10.5849/FS-2016-083R1