Winning concepts help create new markets for small-diameter logs produced by forest restoration; share $100,000 in prize money.

The National Forest Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 Barrett Foundation Business Concept Challenge. This unique business plan competition awards the best entrepreneurial approaches that address the challenges facing America’s 193-million-acre National Forest System. The 2015 winner is Whole Trees® Architecture and Structure and the first runner-up is Klickitat Community Forest Products.

Sponsor Craig R. Barrett, former Chairman and CEO of Intel and current Chair of the NFF’s Board of Directors, described the purpose of this competition as, “stimulating new ideas and cultivating the next generation of entrepreneurial natural resource and business leaders.”

Barrett’s experience at the helm of Intel Corporation influenced his decision to devote substantial resources to encourage the development of market-based solutions that solve forest restoration challenges: “In four decades as a business leader, I’ve seen a lot of innovative ideas, but not enough of them have been directed at the challenges facing our National Forests. As a Board Member of the NFF, I saw an opportunity to channel this intellectual energy towards solving our nation’s critical natural resources challenges.” The competition provides a $75,000 cash award to the winning submission and a $25,000 cash award to the first runner-up.

“Craig’s leadership and innovative thinking have long been admired by the business community,” said Marcus Selig, Interim President of the NFF. “The NFF is excited to offer this opportunity to entrepreneurs around the country and to incubate innovative market-based solutions that help solve the challenges facing our National Forests.”

2015 Challenge Winners

The 2015 winner of the Barrett Foundation Business Concept Challenge, Whole Trees® Architecture and Structure is pushing the boundaries of architecture and building construction by using whole, small diameter logs instead of milled lumber. Whole Trees applies 21st Century tools and know-how to the task of designing, engineering and manufacturing innovative round timber structural systems for commercial and residential buildings. By using cutting edge fastening techniques and patented technologies, Whole Trees allows builders to use entire small-diameter trees as a cost-effective, sustainable replacement for steel and milled lumber in numerous building applications. Small-diameter trees are a low-value by-product of forest management and developing markets for this by-product has been a challenge for land managers and businesses. Whole Trees advances the use of these products and creates a market for this material, while creating local jobs, improving forest management and storing carbon.

First runner-up, Klickitat Community Forest Products, is building a new model for processing small-diameter timber that produces efficiencies and results in increased profits and restoration of National Forests. Using high-efficiency, low-impact, cut-to-length logging systems, logs are merchandised in the field and delivered, unsorted, to Klickitat’s transportable manufacturing facility at a central location. Logs are then graded for four end products: variable-width pine and fir flooring, 1-2” non-graded S4S lumber, bundled and bulk firewood, and fence posts and agricultural poles.

By vertically and horizontally integrating lumber operations and capitalizing on efficiencies gained through this integration, Klickitat Community Forest Products will improve the end market for small-diameter timber, providing a critical incentive for increased forest restoration.

Both teams demonstrate a unique approach to removing a major barrier preventing more restoration work on our National Forests. By creating markets for small diameter trees, the winning teams help create new opportunities for the Forest Service to achieve healthier forests and stimulate local economies. These are exactly the types of ideas we need to be nurturing across the country.

Leslie Weldon, Deputy Chief of the National Forest System

USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Bonnie, agreed: “Building markets for small diameter trees can substantially boost our ability to restore National Forests so that they are more resilient to wildfire and a variety of threats. The Barrett Challenge winners demonstrate that with creative and innovative ideas, there are business opportunities that benefit both the environment and local economies."

National Forest Foundation