Stage 1 fire restrictions, enacted for unincorporated areas of western Boulder County.

News Archive

July 11, 2024

Innovation Grants Awarded to Four Projects that Will Transform Waste to Reduce Wildfire Risk, Lock Away Climate Pollution

In Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah, local innovators will convert ‘liability biomass’ into value-added resources that fight the climate crisis by sucking carbon from the air.

A Bioforcetech Inc. team member operating biochar production machinery

A Bioforcetech Corporation worker operates biochar production machinery. Photo courtesy of Bioforcetech Corporation.

Key Points

  • A coalition of Western U.S. cities and counties awarded $335,000 to four projects designed to fight climate change and reduce wildfire risks by removing carbon dioxide from the air.
  • These projects will convert waste, like forest debris, yard scraps, and biosolids into valuable products, with three of the four projects also reducing local wildfire risk.
  • Experts reviewed proposals and guided the project selection, focusing on their potential to address environmental issues both locally and globally.
  • To receive this information in another language, contact Gloria Handyside by phone 303-441-1622 or email

Albuquerque, NM; Boulder County, CO; Flagstaff, AZ; Salt Lake City, UT; Santa Fe, NM The 4 Corners Carbon Coalition, a group of cities and counties in the Western U.S., has awarded $335,000 to four projects designed to combat climate change and reduce wildfire risks by sucking carbon from the air. These projects will use the latest carbon dioxide removal (CDR) approaches to transform organic waste into practical, value-added resources like biochar.

The 4 Corners Carbon Coalition includes Albuquerque, New Mexico; Boulder County, Colorado; Flagstaff, Arizona; Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Salt Lake City, Utah. These governments pool resources to fund CDR projects that spur local economic activity for this growing sector while also addressing regional environmental challenges.

Through a competitive application process, the coalition received nearly $2.15M in funding requests. After a two-month review period, four organizations were chosen for grants: Bioforcetech Corporation, Carba Inc., Gila WoodNet, and Wood Cache PBC. The selection was made with guidance from a committee that included experts from the Ecological Restoration Institute at Northern Arizona University, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, RMI, and the Yale Carbon Containment Lab.

This latest funding round supports initiatives that integrate carbon dioxide removal (CDR) into community waste management practices, transforming liability biomass — potentially flammable or dangerous materials such as forest debris, yard waste, and municipal organic waste — into more market-friendly commodities. These projects aim to draw down atmospheric carbon dioxide, the key contributor to climate change, while also demonstrating scalable carbon management strategies, with three of the four projects also mitigating local wildfire risks.

The liability biomass theme resonated strongly with all coalition communities. The changing climate of the American West is increasing the destructiveness and cost of wildfires. In the past five years, both Colorado and New Mexico have experienced the most destructive fires in their states' histories. The 2021 Marshall Fire tore through Boulder County, Colorado, on New Year’s Eve, destroying 1,000 homes, while the 2022 Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire destroyed more than 903 structures east of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

“Wildfire prevention is crucial as we address the broader climate crisis,” said Susie Strife, Boulder County director of climate action. “These projects represent a significant step forward, transforming how we manage waste and mitigate risks, and setting a standard that could inspire global change.”

“This year’s focus on liability biomass has sparked some truly groundbreaking ideas,” said Nicole Antonopoulos, City of Flagstaff sustainability director. “Who would have imagined the realm of possibilities for integrating carbon removal with core municipal services like wastewater treatment or landfill operations? The potential impact and scale of these innovations is immense.”

“Managing the Rio Grande Bosque by addressing liability biomass is vitally important to the City of Albuquerque and communities who rely on the benefits of a thriving tree canopy,” said Ann Simon, City of Albuquerque sustainability officer and deputy director of policy. “The innovative projects in this campaign showcase scalable opportunities to mitigate climate change and help the City achieve its Climate Action Plan goals.”

“Protecting air quality is a top priority of Salt Lake City, and the CDR strategies being showcased by this year’s awardees present promising new solutions to mitigate the air quality risk posed by wildfire events,” said Peter Nelson, Salt Lake City sustainability department program manager. “As these CDR projects progress, Salt Lake City will be eager to share their successes with stakeholders in our region who can replicate these air quality solutions.”

Selected Projects:
In addition to municipal sources, the ClimateWorks Foundation also contributed to the pool of catalytic grant funds. All amounts listed represent the total project awards, combining municipal and Foundation sources.

Bioforcetech Inc.'s Biochar to Asphalt and Concrete Project

Photo courtesy of Bioforcetech Corporation

Bioforcetech Corporation, Biochar to Asphalt and Concrete: $50,000
Boulder, CO and Flagstaff, AZ
Bioforcetech Corporation, the first company in the United States approved by the EPA to do advanced pyrolysis of biosolids produced during wastewater treatment, will incorporate biochar made from municipal waste biosolids into asphalt and concrete. Working with industry partners like Braun Intertec and BlockLite, this project will explore biochar’s ability to increase the durability and sustainability of construction materials, promoting urban sustainability and eco-friendly building practices.

Carba Inc.'s Landfill Biochar Burial project

Photo courtesy of Carba Inc.

Carba Inc., Landfill Biochar Burial: $50,000
Boulder, CO and Flagstaff, AZ
Carba Inc. will use torrefaction, a novel low-temperature method of pyrolysis, to convert woody biomass from locally-sourced slash piles in Flagstaff, AZ into biochar. This biochar will be buried and tested at the Cinder Lake Landfill to study the effectiveness of torrefaction in permanently storing carbon, assessing how it interacts with local environmental conditions to bolster climate resilience.

Gila WoodNet, Biomass to Energy and Biochar:

Photo courtesy of Gila WoodNet

Gila WoodNet, Biomass to Energy and Biochar: $145,000
Boulder, CO and Silver City, NM
Gila WoodNet will process forest waste from across 150 acres of Gila National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, New Mexico State Forestry, and other wildland/urban interface lands. The biomass collected will be dried and processed into pellets at the Gila WoodNet sort yard. These pellets will fuel innovative pyrolysis units designed to generate clean energy and produce biochar, a soil enhancer that captures carbon, improving forest health and fighting soil degradation.

Wood Cache PBC's Woody Biomass Storage project

Photo courtesy of Wood Cache PBC

Wood Cache PBC, Woody Biomass Storage: $90,000
Boulder, CO. Huerfano County, CO, and Provo, UT
Wood Cache PBC is set to build a new biomass storage facility in La Veta, CO, where it will store about 900 tonnes of woody biomass from nearby regions. This project aims to improve the management of forest biomass and perfect techniques for accurately measuring and securing carbon storage, contributing to global climate action efforts.

About the 4 Corners Carbon Coalition:

The 4 Corners Carbon Coalition is a first-of-its-kind partnership of local governments pooling resources to envision and accelerate community-based carbon dioxide removal project deployment and business development. The coalition was started in the Four Corners region of the Western United States. As of July 2024, members include Albuquerque, New Mexico; Boulder County, Colorado; Flagstaff, Arizona; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

In 2023, the coalition issued its first grants for innovative carbon dioxide removal in concrete manufacturing, including first-of-their-kind direct-air-capture applications and hempcrete pilots. For more information about previous, current, and future initiatives, visit the 4 Corners Carbon Coalition website at


Mission of the Office of Sustainability, Climate Action & Resilience

Our mission is to advance policies and programs that conserve resources, protect the environment, and safeguard our climate in order to build a sustainable, just, and resilient community.

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter