Biomass Utilization Fund

Biomass diagram

The Biomass Utilization Fund (BUF) was allocated $17 million in federal funds to help finance new or expanding businesses located or locating in Tuolumne County that are capable of using the available biomass from the surrounding forests and provide an alternative to pile burning of forest waste. Businesses are required to use forest biomass as a part of their operations and to provide permanent employment opportunities to low- and moderate-income individuals. California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) research suggests that there are 44,000 tons of bone-dry wood available annually to support new business opportunities. HCD partnered with SNC to lead the effort to establish a new Biomass Utilization Fund to encourage the use of forest biomass and increase community and forest resilience. HCD and SNC have entered into an agreement with Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) to manage the Biomass Utilization Fund.

BUF Loan Program Flow Chart

BUF Toolkit

This toolkit reviews processes and challenges that the BUF can overcome. The toolkit describes the projects, issues related to environmental guidelines, financing, product marketing and details lessons learned.

BUF Toolkit

Summary of Agreements

Here are the agreements entered into related to the Biomass Utilization Fund.

Service Agreement between Rural Community Assistance Corporation and Ascent Environmental, Inc.

Rural Community Assistance Corporation with Housing and Community Development:
FE 16-NDR-12731 Executed RCAC HCD SNC
RCAC HCD Full Contract

Mother Lode Job Training Sub Agreement:
FE BUF MLJT Agreement

National Development Council Sub Agreement:
FE full RCAC 2020 Contract 2nd contract pages 1-13
FE full RCAC 2020 Contract 2nd contract attachments

Request for Proposal

Environmental Consulting Services for Three Proposed Biomass Utilization Fund Projects
Release Date: Nov. 16, 2020
Submittal Date: Dec. 11, 2020 (See Page 11 of the RFP for submittal instructions.)

Download Request for Proposal HERE


  • Does RCAC intend to select one team for all three projects or would the projects potentially be split between different consultant teams?

RCAC intends to select one team for all three projects.

  • Do you envision the need for a public outreach program associated with these projects or would the typical NEPA and CEQA public scoping and comment opportunities be sufficient?

The typical NEPA and CEQA public scoping and comment responses will suffice.

  • The parcel number and address for the preferred location for the Wallowa Resources Community Solutions project don’t appear to match each other. Can you confirm 13037 Sanguinetti Road is the correct site?

We verified the parcel information with the applicant and the APN is correct.  The address was wrong.  Please see the correct details:

    1. Physical address: 5400 O’Byrne Ferry Road, Jamestown, CA 95327
    2. APN: 063-070-086 (the same as in the RFP)
  • Are you able to share how many firms received the RFP?

We released the RFP to four firms that had qualified during the RFQ process.

  • We want to make sure that we are taking the time to carefully think through the approach so we can be sure to provide a cost effective scope of work that meets the project needs. Would RCAC consider extending the due date to provide a few more days to prepare proposals?

We are willing to extend the deadline for submission to December 11th and will publish a new timeline for the RFP Schedule.

Request for Qualifications

Environmental Services and Related Studies Tuolumne County
Release Date: May 20, 2020
Submission Date: June 30, 2020
Request for Statement of Qualifications


Frequently Asked Questions Regarding BUF (6-1-20)

RCAC and SNC hosted a webinar for interested parties to learn more about the program and the application process on May 12. Access the recording here >>

Application Process

Loan Application (Including Application Notes and Loan Fund Policies)
  • Applications are NOT being accepted. All applications received by June 12, 2020 were given the same consideration with the highest ranking, substantially complete applications moving forward first. Applications received after June 12 will be evaluated based on the availability of funds.
  • Initial review will focus on project feasibility, estimated use of biomass and job creation potential, followed by economic viability of the proposed business and the need for BUF financing.
  • Priority will be given to projects that will utilize the most biomass and create the greatest number of jobs for low- and moderate-income people.

BUF Acronyms for Applications and Agreements

Eligibility and Program Requirements

  • Small businesses, nonprofits, and public entities including federally recognized Tribes located or locating in Tuolumne County are eligible to receive funds under the BUF.
  • Funding is limited to businesses located or locating in Tuolumne County.
  • The fund is prohibited from substituting for conventional financing. Applicants will be required to bring equity and/or other financing to the project, or apply for other available RCAC loan products.
  • BUF funds will be made available at 3% interest amortized over 30 years, but applicants may be eligible for additional subsidies if required by the financial analysis.
  • BUF assistance will be provided only to the extent needed to ensure the business is viable and can demonstrate an improving cash flow over time while achieving a reasonable return.
  • Projects are required to create new, permanent jobs, predominantly for low- to moderate-income people.
  • Recipients of BUF funds must document job creation and expend all funds by April 30, 2022.


Download BUF fact sheet


HCD is one of 13 competitively awarded recipients of Community Development Block Grant – National Disaster Resilience funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HCD received this federal award to demonstrate how expanding biomass based businesses could make Tuolumne County more resilient as it continues to rebuild from the devastation of the 2013 Rim Fire.



RCAC is an equal opportunity lender.