Bamboo Forests in the Desert

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Bamboo is for more than just panda bears. Strong commercial applications of bamboo include sustainable branded products such as pulp paper, timber, lumber and textiles. And, in line with tissue and textile major brand owner concerns, bamboo is twice as soft as cotton and doesn’t require pesticides and fertilizers in its crops.

As a $100 billion industry in China, bamboo has flourished for centuries in the tropical climates of the Far East. Regenbiomass founder and CEO Phil Cruver of Palm Desert is confident that this sturdy-as-steel plant will also grow and thrive on a grand scale in the arable lands of the Southern California deserts.

A 25-year test with 50 different species of bamboo on 40 acres in the hot desert climate of Imperial County has proven to be an anecdotal success. Regenbiomass has embarked on a pilot program to set up a micropropagation nursery capable of producing 20,000 plantlets of six different bamboo species per month. Discussions are underway for the USDA Agricultural and Salinity Research Unit and UC Riverside Botany and Plant Service Department to independently verify the water consumption and the sequestration levels of carbon dioxide.

With details such as negotiating land leases with the Bureau of Land Management underway, it is anticipated that the end of 2020 will present the “shovel ready” phase. Manpower to operate those shovels will not offer a challenge as Imperial County has the highest unemployment rate and lowest wage level in the state. The Global Climate Solutions Act in the Senate and Trillion Tree Act in the House of Representatives are two pieces of recent legislation illustrating commitment from U.S. government leadership to finding natural solutions for a Green Jobs Stimulus Program that would aid in financing the labor pool for creating a bamboo industry in America.

Corporate America is also primed. Mr. Cruver received a call recently from the CEO of a major American consumer goods company who was facing community protests as a result his company’s production of unsustainable cotton. “What about bamboo?” asked the CEO.

“Bamboo grows extremely fast in the desert environment thriving on sunshine and high temperatures. It is documented to grow as fast as 47.6 inches in a 24-hour period and reaching over 100 feet in height. Bamboo absorbs four times the CO2 and releases 35% more oxygen than hardwood trees,” notes the Regenbiomass website.

Another bamboo by-product is bioethanol for booze. Mr. Cruver’s twin children are heading up “Drink to Save the Planet,” a campaign promoting vodka and gin distilled from regenerative bamboo grown on desert lands.

Utilizing the good fortune of his age (he’s over 65), Mr. Cruver is able to advance his seven provisional patents to be approved within one year by the USPTO. By that time he may also be channeling his energies to include other renewable bioremediation crops such as Paulownia, the fastest growing tree in the world and Salicornia, the “salt-loving plant.”

David Liepman
June 18, 2020

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