SEC Awarded Major Urban Forestry Grant

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Initiative News

The Sonoma Ecology Center recently signed a contract agreement with CalFire to manage an Urban Forestry grant that will produce biochar at Mare Island using pyrolysis technology from the Advanced Renewable Technology International company in Iowa. This project will work closely with a sustainably managed tree care company, A Plus Tree based in Pleasant Hill, California, to divert hundreds of cubic yards of material weekly from landfills and produce biochar instead. A Plus Tree will use the biochar in their tree care activities as well as distribute it to local community and school gardens in economically challenged areas of the East Bay Area, and will plant 1200 new trees in these areas as well. SEC hopes this project will serve as a model for the more sustainable use of urban biomass as well as scaling the use of biochar in urban and municipal landscaping activities.

We will post regular updates are excited to start work on this on this project that we hope will be a model for other similar efforts around the Bay Area and beyond.

Raymond Baltar

BioBiz Business Plan Competition

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Initiative News

The BioBiz Business Plan Competition launches on Feb 1, and begins with a Request for Proposals (RFP) for applicants to submit their biomass business plan concepts.  We are pleased to announce that we have a new and expanded website to support the Competition!  This site contains all of the information you will need to start writing your winning biomass business concept including: application materials, scoring criteria, Competition timelines, and the awards package.  Please visit and share our new site: 


We are excited to announce that we were able to secure enough donations to award two business concepts a cash prize of $32,500 in addition to select technical services. Furthermore, we are continuing to work with  a few more donors to try and add more to the cash award and will announce any additional funds in March. A big “thank you” to our coalition of supporters, especially Sonoma Clean Power, CAL FIRE and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District for contributing funds to this Competition! 

The RFP will begin on Monday February 1st, 2021 and close on March 26, 2021.  The RFP will provide interested applicants with all of the necessary details for their biomass business plan submission.  Free workshops will be provided by the Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center (by Zoom) to help applicants develop their plans January 27 through February 4.

Until then, we will continue to update  our website to ensure support of our applicants and the Competition. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email the BioBiz Competition coordinator, Clarke Stevenson, at

Thank you and mark your calendars for February 1st!

Sonoma Ecology Center Awarded NCRP Grant

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Initiative News

The Sonoma Ecology Center was recently awarded a grant by the North Coast Resource Partnership to purchase a set of flame-cap, “Ring of Fire” kilns, pioneered by Kelpie Wilson of Wilson Associates, that will be used to convert forest slash to biochar. The kilns will be part of a “kit” that includes a trailer to transport them, a 500 gallon water trailer, and various tools and fire retardant clothing that will be used by the Potter Valley Tribe and the Redwood Forest Foundation to demonstrate this method as an alternative to open pile burning. The kilns will also be used at a Demonstration Day being organized by the Scott River Watershed Council in Siskiyou County that will also include the Conservation Burn technique and the TigerCat Carbonator owned by forester Dan Falk.

Below are some pictures showing the type of kilns that will be used.

Photo Courtesy Kelpie Wilson
Kelpie Wilson (center) helps to construct a “Ring of Fire” kiln, a modular and mobile device designed to convert orchard and forest slash materials into biochar. Photo courtesy Kelpie Wilson

Watch Dirt Rich, The Movie

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Initiative News

Dirt Rich, a movie with a large focus on biochar, is available for viewing here!  As much of the world is spending time indoors while “flattening the curve”, here is a movie to watch for those with the luxury to do so.  (David Morell of Sonoma Ecology Center and Josiah Hunt of Pacific Biochar Benefit Corporation are part of this documentary style movie).

Biochar Production Workshops Jan. 6 – 10, 2020

Written by admin on . Posted in Initiative News


Monday, January 6, 2020
9:00 AM–12:00 PM at Butte College, 3536 Butte College Drive, Oroville, CA 95965 in
Room LRC 145

  • Introductory Seminar: Presentation will be by Kelpie Wilson of Wilson Biochar Associates of Oregon ( “An Introduction to Biochar and its Applications in Forestry.”
  • Stephen Feher of SCDI, with student interns of the MESA Program at Butte College, will present an overview of BIOCHAR R&D Project, supported by EPA-P3 grant in its third year and a $50,000 donation by PG&E made in 2017.

For directions: or call 530/895-2511
1:00 PM-4:00 PM: Field Demonstration at Berkeley Olive Grove, 8 Rocky Drive, Oroville, CA 95965 For directions: or call 530/533-1914


Tuesday, January 7, 2020 – two sites:

9:00 AM-12:00 PM: Moak’s,13006 Concow Road, Oroville (Concow), CA 95965
1:00 PM-4:00 PM: Corey’s, 13211 Concow Road, Oroville (Concow), CA 95965

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

9:00 AM-4:00 PM: Hugg’s, 3635 Charqui Court, Oroville (Concow), CA 95965

Thursday, January 9, 2020

9AM-4PM: Broshear’s, 7279 Pentz Road, Paradise, CA 95969 

Friday, January 10, 2020

9:00 AM-4:00 PM
Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve (BCCER), 3521 14 Mile House Road (off HWY 32) Forest Ranch, CA 95942
Directions: or call 530/898-5010


Stephen I. Feher
Executive Director, Sustainable Community Development Institute (SCDI)
Associate Faculty, Engineering and Technical Director, EPA-P3 BIOCHAR R&D Grant Project at Butte College
Member of Butte County Fire Safe Council and Tree Safety and Usage Working Group
Cell: (530)327-8355

Permaculture, Biochar and Soil

Written by admin on . Posted in Initiative News

Permaculture, Biochar and Soil
Sonoma Garden Park
19996 7th St E, Sonoma, CA 95476
Wednesday Sept. 18th
4 P.M.. to 6 P.M.

Join us for an amazing educational event to learn more about permaculture techniques and how biochar and compost blends fit into commercial and/or backyard garden soil management and carbon sequestration strategies.

Two amazing teachers, Matt Powers (The Permaculture Student) and Cuauhtemoc Villa (Bokashi and biochar inoculation master) will get you up to speed on permaculture techniques and how best to prepare and use biochar to improve soil and make it more productive. SBI‘s Raymond Baltar will give a brief overview of how you can make biochar yourself and where you can acquire it, in small garden or truckload quantities. We have also invited Khadija Khansiafrom the Local Carbon Network, a biochar outreach and marketing initiative by All Power Labs in Berkeley, to discuss development of local, distributed networks for biochar and biomass energy production.  

The Workshop Fee is $20 General Admission, and $10 for students with a current Student ID.  Please register here, and spread the word to your networks if you think there may be interest.

Ice on Fire Screening in Sonoma Aug. 26th!

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Initiative News

“Ice on Fire” Screening in Sonoma August 26th

Sonoma Ecology Center, Redwood Forest Foundation Present ‘Ice on Fire’ at Sebastiani Theatre. 

An HBO documentary on climate change SOLUTIONS produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio in partnership with Tree Media Group has sparked interest and conversation since its debut at Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. Now the film – and the conversation – is coming to Sonoma as Sonoma Ecology Center and the Redwood Forest Foundation, Inc. (RFFI) proudly present “Ice on Fire” at the Sebastiani Theatre on Aug. 26.

“Ice on Fire” was accepted into the Cannes Film Festival in May, and premiered on HBO in June. Its arrival to the Sebastiani Theatre is its first Bay Area screening. This special event on Monday, Aug. 26 begins with wine donated and poured by Benziger Family Winery, plus light refreshments, in the Sebastiani Theatre foyer at 6 p.m. The film starts at 7 p.m., followed by a brief panel discussion moderated by Baltar and featuring “Ice on Fire” director Leila Conners, RFFI Chief Forester and Usal Forest manager Linwood Gill, and others to be announced. Sebastiani Theatre is located on Sonoma Plaza at 476 First Street East, Sonoma.

Tickets are available for $20 at  All students with valid student body card are Free!

All proceeds from the event will help support Sonoma Biochar Initiative and RFFI. For more on the film go to on-fire. For more on Sonoma Biochar Initiative and RFFI go to and

Biochar Meeting at Shone Farm 6/19/19

Written by admin on . Posted in Initiative News

SBI, in collaboration with Sonoma Water and other partners, is holding a meeting to discuss its recent activities, form new collaborative relationships, and to hear about other synergistic efforts to build healthier forests and manage fire adaptive landscapes, build healthier soils, sequester carbon, and build local resiliency. Download the flyer here. Please register here. The event is free.

New Ice on Fire Documentary

Written by admin on . Posted in Initiative News

An important new climate change documentary, co-produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and his father George DiCaprio and financed by HBO Films, will be streamed on HBO beginning on June 11th. The filmmakers traveled the world to document how fast things are changing and to interview a number of experts on the unfolding climate crisis. The focus of the film, however, is on a number of positive and existing methods we can use to drawdown carbon and (hopefully) slow the warming to under 2 degrees C, including biochar production and use, kelp farming, afforestation and reforestation, and direct air capture technology.

You can see the trailer here:

There will be a major fundraising effort tied to the film that will generate money for major tree planting and biochar projects through the Redwood Forest Foundation, Inc.; a large number of kelp farms under the direction of Bren Smith’s fantastic company Greenwave; and direct air capture machines from Europe. Coupled with the great new book “Burn: Using Fire to Cool the Earth” by Albert Bates and Kathleen Draper, and the fact that biochar was cited in the latest U.N. IPCC Special Report as one of the least expensive and most easily scalable technologies to drawdown excess C02 from the atmosphere, biochar production and use is leaping onto the world stage as something of critical value in the massive fight for ecosystem survival that lies ahead of us.

Raymond Baltar

Announcing Upcoming Conservation Burn Workshops

Written by admin on . Posted in Biochar General, Biochar Policy, Biochar Technology, Citizen Science Project, Initiative News, Member News, Uncategorized, USBI Conference 2012

In collaboration with The Vineyard Team and the air quality management districts in San Luis Obispo, Monterey, and Santa Barbara counties, we are happy to announce that we will be giving conservation burn workshops in each county on April 3rd, 4th, and 5th. Each workshop will be 4 hours in length and include a lecture on biochar and the theory behind this cleaner burn methodology along with a hands-on field burn.

Here are the dates and locations.  To register, CLICK HERE.

  • April 3rd Santa Barbara County, Sea Smoke Vineyards, Lompoc  9 A.M. to 1 P.M.
  • April 4th San Luis Obispo County, J Lohr Vineyards and Wines, Paso Robles  9 A.M. to 1 P.M.
  • April 5th Monterey County, Ste. Phillipe Vineyard, Soledad  9 A.M. to 1 P.M.