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  • Writer's pictureDarian Dyer

Firewood Banks + Air Quality

AGH staff attended the National Tribal Forum on Air Quality in Cherokee, North Carolina last week. On Monday, during a pre-conference training, we presented on how firewood banks can assist in decreasing air quality concerns by delivering dry wood to recipients. Around 31% of the grantees in the last two years have been tribal-led, or majority tribal-serving, firewood banks, so it was incredibly important for the AGH staff to learn more about wood smoke concerns in Indigenous communities.

From left, John Ackerly (AGH President), Joe Seidenberg (Red Feather Development Group Executive Director), Darian Dyer (AGH Policy Analyst), Larry Brockman (Burn Wise Education Program, Team Leader), and Danielle Johnson (EPA Burn Wise) at the 2024 National Tribal Forum on Air Quality.

Education and outreach was a major instrument of change often discussed throughout the Forum. Firewood banks are positioned to lead on education and outreach because of the relationships of trust they have built with their neighbors. Whether this is connecting recipients to existing weatherization services, encouraging chimney sweeps, handing out smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, or distributing EPA Burn Wise materials, firewood banks have a huge opportunity to reach beyond meeting immediate heating need. The scale of these educational interventions can be big or small, depending on the capacity of the firewood bank.

One slide within the presentation discussing the intersection of firewood banks and air quality.

AGH learned that many tribal staff didn't realize they were actually eligible for the Firewood Assistance Program grants. Sometimes, programs only deliver to elders. This still qualifies! Some programs don't even call themselves a "firewood bank." You still qualify if you are giving firewood away for free! Other times, the firewood delivered is used for ceremonial use in tandem with heating use. This is a perfectly legitimate use of firewood from a firewood bank and would not disqualify a bank from applying for grant funds!

We encourage everyone to read our Apply Now page carefully and peruse our FAQ section. You might be surprised at how easy the process of receiving funding for your program can be!

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