LITTLE VALLEY – Cattaraugus County legislators have some serious doubts about a new technology being developed at the SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry College in Syracuse that would make use of the county’s abundant hardwood.
Last month Preston S. Gilbert and Thomas E. Amidon of the forestry college laid out what it is that they want to bring to Cattaraugus County and the surrounding areas. The process of extracting compounds from waste hardwood in the area would offer a way to develop new businesses, manage local forests and even retain people in the area, according to Amidon.
The process that has been developed at the forestry school, as well as within Amidon’s business, Applied Biorefinery Sciences, uses a hot water extraction process that frees different compounds from the wood to create advanced biomaterial products, enhanced wood products and combined heat and power. Legislators discussed the methods and the plans at a Wednesday meeting of the Development and Agriculture Committee.
Legislator James J. Snyder Jr., R-Cuba, who has expertise in forestry, said the numbers that were laid out last week “don’t add up.”
“I went home and crunched the numbers,” he said. “For this to make sense, it has to work on paper and these numbers that we were given just do not add up.”
Snyder said the proposal needs to be reworked, and he would like to have Gilbert and Amidon return to answer questions about it.
Under the proposal, a facility to be built in Cattaraugus County would take in about 500 dry tons of wood a day. That comes out to about 40 logging truck loads.
The facility would not use premium hardwoods – in fact, it would be what is normally considered waste and is sold as heating and firewood, Snyder said.
“The proposal claims that they would be paying $70 a dry ton for the wood,” he said. “Right now, the market price is about $40 per green ton in the area. The cost for firewood would have to go up.”
Another issue, Snyder said, is that owners that are now not paid for waste trees that are cut on their land would be looking to be paid.
“If the land owner has to be paid, with the harvest price, prices are going to go up,” he said. “There is no way I can get close to [Amidon’s] numbers, based on what he told us.”
The only thing that is being asked of the County Legislature at this time is a contract with Seneca Trail Resource Conservation and Development to have its executive director, Patrick McGlew, represent the county’s interests as the bio-refinery project moves forward. The contract would pay McGlew $75,000 over two years.
Movement on the funding of a consultant has been halted until the project is studied further.