Firewood banks are organizations which provide emergency and seasonal wood for heating homes. Similar to food banks, firewood banks can be run by nonprofits, churches and other religious organizations, state or local governments, or tribes. Typically, firewood banks are run entirely by volunteers, who help split, stack, and store wood to be picked up by or delivered to those in need. Firewood bank programs and structures can vary widely in the source of wood, organization type, funding, and strategy. Because of the critical need firewood banks fill for many tribal and rural areas of the country, federal funding has been provided to support their continued work.
“The historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Act (Section 40803(c)(17), signed into law by President Biden, included $8 million for firewood banks. The Alliance for Green Heat, a national non profit organization, is working with the U.S. Forest Service to facilitate the deployment of this funding to firewood banks across the country. Approximately $696,280 of this funding will be made available during FY 2024 with progressively more funding made available in following years.
Wood heating has a long history in the United States, and many low to moderate income residents in particular rely on wood heat. Wood banks fill a crucial need for those running low on money or heating assistance funds, facing electricity outages, or needing more heat to remain safe and comfortable. The mission of this funding opportunity is to support these people in need by providing feedstock and financial assistance. This program is not intended to compete with commercial firewood providers.
The main priority of this program is to provide financial and educational resources to public and tribal firewood bank programs in the United States to support access to wood heat for low- to moderate-income individuals who are struggling to pay for home heating fuel and deal with emergency situations such as power outages. A second priority is to help supply additional feedstock to expand the potential of wood that is generated from hazardous fuel treatments, forest management, or storm cleanup activities on both public and private lands. Additional benefits may include improved safety of firewood bank processing, clean and safe firewood burning, and mitigation of insect risks.