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  • Writer's pictureDarian Dyer

Prospects for Future Funding of Firewood Banks

During the week of February 5th, 2024, John Ackerly (AGH President) and Darian Dyer (AGH Policy Analyst) spent some time in D.C., exploring how to keep funding for firewood banks going after the current 5-year funding expires. The current funding came from a Congressional earmark via the US Forest Service. Unless there is another earmark from Congress, the US Forest Service will not be able to keep this program alive. 


The two routes suggested included advocating for the addition of firewood bank funding in the Farm Bill or going through yearly congressional appropriations. 


We visited the following offices:

  • Rep. James McGovern (MA-02)

  • Sen. Thom Tillis (NC)

  • Rep. Chellie Pingree (ME-01)

  • Rep. Andres Salinas (OR-06) 

  • Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR-05)


We chose these offices due to the presence of firewood banks in the members’ district and their positions on their respective agricultural committees. While Sen. Thom Tillis is not on a relevant agricultural committee, he did previously express support and interest in firewood banks. We sent follow up emails to each staffer that we met with, thanking them for their support and expressed the wish to stay connected in the future on firewood bank advocacy. 


Funding 


It is not impossible, but it will be tough to get funding for firewood banks in the Farm Bill at this point in the process. Nevertheless, it is important to try because other options are not guaranteed, and regardless, it's really good to make members aware of the vital role of firewood banks. While the Farm Bill is still technically “written in pencil,” congress members already submitted their priority projects last year. If firewood banks were to be added, something would likely have to be removed. This is not a popular action. The downside of turning to yearly congressional appropriations is that this funding would have to be requested each year, causing a certain degree of unpredictability of funding. 


Next Steps 


We will be following up with congressional offices. We also need firewood banks within each visited offices’ district to tell their elected representatives that they need this funding. The more awareness and visibility firewood banks gain, the greater the opportunities for funding! If your firewood bank is in a district with a Senator or House Member on the right committee, expect to hear from us soon!


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