CA State Conservation Camps

The Watershed Center has been a longtime champion of biomass energy conversion projects. Biomass energy conversion entails converting publicly-owned facilities from fossil fuel heating (e.g. propane, kerosene, and heating oil), to heating with renewable woody biomass derived from sustainable forest stewardship. By replacing fossil fuels with locally-sourced renewable fuel, biomass heat facilities create sustainable energy alternatives while contributing to forest health. Biomass energy creates a controlled-combustion option for these woody material by-products otherwise disposed of in open-pile burns. Converting existing facilities to use biomass heating can save money, offset fossil fuels, reduce emissions, and support forest restoration.

In 2008, we analyzed potential biomass thermal retrofit opportunities in Trinity, Siskiyou and Modoc Counties. This study revealed two cost-effective biomass thermal retrofit opportunities: the Devil’s Garden Conservation Camp in Modoc County, and the Trinity River Conservation Camp in Trinity County.

Since then, we have worked with CALFIRE to secure federal grant funding and complete a full engineering and cost study, and we’re currently working with the agency and their partners at the CA Department of Correction’s and Rehabilitation to secure internal support and financing to complete the retrofits.

This project will serve as a demonstration of the benefits and efficiency of utilizing biomass energy. With 42 additional Conservation Camps in California, we hope to move forward by assessing the remaining camps for feasibility and expanding this renewable energy model throughout the state system.

To learn more about this project, contact Nick Goulette, Executive Director at the Watershed Center, by calling 530-628-4206 or emailing nickg[at]