CWC funds grass pellet study; awards grants, loan to businesses

Margaretville – The Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC) will fund a study by Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) to explore the feasibility of producing and utilizing grass pellets as a bio-energy source for heating.
At its September 25 meeting, the CWC Board of Directors authorized the expenditure of up to $195,500 from the Catskill Fund for the Future for a three-year pilot project to examine regional production and pelletization capacity and to demonstrate the feasibility of using grass pellets for residential and commercial heating applications.
The project will include purchase and installation of pellet-burning stoves in several locations in the watershed, monitoring their operation and gauging air quality impacts.
The CWC has consulted with Cornell agriculture professor Jerry Cherney, an avid promoter of the development of grass pellets as a low-tech, small-scale, environmentally-friendly, renewable energy system that can be locally produced, processed and consumed.
Prof. Cherney spoke on this topic at the 2006 Catskills Local Government Day, when he noted that New York State has about 1.5 million acres of unused or underutilized agricultural land, most of which is already growing grass. Pelletized grass biofuel, Cherney says, has the potential to become a major affordable, unsubsidized fuel source capable of meeting home and small business heating requirements.
In other business at its monthly meeting, the CWC Board awarded one business loan, and several grants. They include:
Sean Byrne and Kelly Coughlin, principals in Newgrange Enterprises, will receive a $223,000 low-interest loan to renovate Curran’s Inn in Tannersville. Plans for the inn include three upscale bed and breakfast suites and an 82-seat restaurant.
The Town of Olive was awarded a $83,000 grant to construct a storm water detention pond at the site of the future Boiceville Wastewater Treatment Plant being developed under the CWC’s Community Wastewater Management Program.
Greene County Soil & Water Conservation District will receive a grant of $153,503 to install storm water controls associated with the Catskill Mountain Foundation’s re-development of the former Sugar Maples resort in Maplecrest into an arts community. GCSWCD will also receive a grant of approximately $111,000 for a stormwater control project in partnership with the Hunter Foundation, which is redeveloping commercial buildings and parking areas in the Village of Tannersville. A kiosk, interpretive signage and a Creek Walk along Sawmill Brook will be included in the Tannersville project.
In the Town of Shandaken, an award of $35,530 will fund a Storm water Infrastructure Planning and Assessment Project. Another grant, for $24,436, will purchase and install brine tanks for four dump trucks to be used for roadway de-icing, and purchase of a fifth brine storage tank.
The Town of Andes will receive two grants totaling $471,000, to re-grade ditches and install storm water controls on Coulter Road; and to improve drainage from a hill north of High Street in the hamlet of Andes.
The Town of Roxbury will get $46,580 to address runoff from a hill above Lake Street, and to redesign the existing collection and conveyance system.
Two grants were also awarded under the Stream Corridor Protection Program. The Town of Shandaken will receive up to $16,997 to restore an 80-foot retaining wall on Birch Creek, and a grant of up to $100,000 will implement recommendations of the Schoharie Creek Management Plan on the O’Hara farm in the Town of Prattsville.
For more information on these and other programs designed to assist homeowners and businesses in the New York City Watershed, call 845-586-1400, or go to www.cwconline.org.