Utilization of forests and grasslands are part of rural prosperity, says U.S. Department of Agriculture, Secretary Tom Vilsack.

To that end Vilsack says the department is working to boost recreational use and do more forest restoration. That involves thinning of dead trees and brush that reduces fire hazards, but also provides material for manufacturing and energy endeavors.

The Ag department is offering grants to assist in developing new wood-to-energy opportunities. Forest Service Chief, Tom Tidwell, says this type of investment will help communities save energy, "but also to create another market for us, to be able to find a use for this material that needs to be removed from our forests, plus support the jobs that it takes to do the restoration work."

Vilsack also announced a pilot plant that uses nano technology to turn wood into new products that could replace plastics for many uses.