Denver – Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) announced the formation of an unusual rural cooperative in Hartsel, Colorado, at the center of Colorado’s forests. Colorado Renewable Resources Cooperative, Inc. (CRRC) will use the principles of co-op development to recycle wood waste. By combining their resources into a cooperative, the eleven partners can develop facilities to process wood waste for reuse. They will also be able reduce overheads, bid competitively for forest maintenance contracts, and improve their buying power for equipment. Cooperative partnering will allow them to store and process wood waste rather than simply treating it as trash.
Wood waste can be recycled as landscaping chips, mulch, or fire logs, among other uses. It also has future potential as a source of cellulosic ethanol and fuel for heating and electric plants. “This is the kind of innovative resource harvesting that the Co-op Development Center is looking to promote in the rural community,” said Tony Frank, Director of Renewable Energy Development at RMFU’s Cooperative and Economic Development Center (CDC).
RMFU participated in organizational meetings with the eleven members of the co-op, as well as assisting with the design and incorporation of the business. “Establishing a new and innovative co-op is a great way to celebrate National Co-Op Month,” CDC Director Ben Rainbolt said. “RMFU will continue to provide management, legal, and energy expertise for this group.” Funding for development of CRRC came in part from Colorado’s Park County Commissioners and a USDA Rural Development grant to National Farmers Union for business opportunities in forestry.
“We hope to connect the theory about woody biomass with what forestry management guys are seeing and doing in the field,” said CRRC President Mike Smith. “Cooperative storage and management are the key to effective reuse.”