[Bend.com] The Forest Biomass Work Group of Salem, Oregon, is exploring how utilizing biomass can improve forest health and create a viable biomass industry using previously unmerchantable raw material from Oregon’s forests. The 30-member panel represents diverse interests: forest and energy industries, resource agencies, environmental organizations, elected officials, tribes, labor representatives and local communities. The work group will identify existing barriers of utilizing biomass in Oregon and discuss ways to overcome them. Forestry and the Oregon Department of Energy are overseeing these collaborative efforts. Many believe that removing the excess forest biomass and developing markets for the material would reduce fire risk, improve forest health and air quality, and help stimulate Oregon’s economy by creating new jobs.