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Meeting the goals set by the Energy Independence and Security Act requires evaluation of all potential feedstock sources including arid and semi-arid portions of the western United States (U.S.). The objective of this study was to assess the lignocellulosic feedstock potential in stream buffers of the inland Pacific Northwest. A 3-yr (2010–2012) experiment was conducted at two sites within each of the three precipitation zones (low, mid, and high). At each site, barley ( L.), wheat ( L.), alfalfa ( L., cultivar Ladak), tall wheatgrass ( Podp. cultivar Alkar) (TWG), and a mix of alfalfa and tall wheatgrass (MIX) were planted in a randomized complete block experimental design. Productivity followed precipitation; in the high and mid precipitation zones, the MIX and TWG treatments showed potential production of 3,079 ± 262 l ha−1 and 3,062 ± 235 l ha−1. Productivity in the low zone was inadequate or unreliable as a source of feedstocks. A geographic information system was then used to identify the area available for stream buffers with soil resources that matched the experimental results within each precipitation zone. In 3.7 × 106 ha of dryland cropland, 44 656 ha (1.5%) available within the mid and high precipitation zones is capable of producing 147 million liters of ethanol. This potential contribution is 0.3% of the lignocellulosic ethanol production expected by the year 2022. Though not a substantial contribution, the added benefit of producing energy for on-farm consumption might provide an additional incentive for landowners and managers to install conservation buffers.


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