Monday, April 8, 2024

Alliance for Green Heat and USDA Forest Service partner to expand national network of firewood banks using local, renewable energy to assist low income households

AGH, April 8, 2024 - Alliance for Green Heat is making over $1 million available to expand and connect the nation’s network of firewood banks thanks to a grant from the USDA Forest Service made possible by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Firewood banks, similar in approach to food banks, provide a local, renewable and cost-effective heating source to households in need. 

Firewood banks can start applying for funds on May 1. Banks that have already received funding can apply for renewable grants on September 1. 

The program is intended to help firewood banks expand, be sustainable, deliver seasoned wood and improve safety practices. 

The Census Bureau estimates 1.9 million U.S. households use wood or pellets as a primary heat source. In rural areas, about 25% of homes use wood as a secondary heat source. In tribal communities, wood is often the primary heat source for the majority of households.  The top wood heating states, in order, are Vermont, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, Idaho, New Hampshire, Oregon and West Virginia. 

Forest Service Chief
Randy Moore

“Firewood provides a local, renewable source of heat for so many families across our country, especially in tribal communities,” said Forest Service Chief Randy Moore. “Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and our partners at Alliance for Green Heat, we are able to support the network of firewood banks that are providing lifesaving aid by ensuring more families can access the firewood they need.” 

Funding mostly goes to purchase tools, chain saws, splitters and protective safety equipment. Most firewood banks receive free logs from towns, tree trimmers, loggers and other donors but some have to purchase logs. They largely rely on volunteers to cut, split, season, and deliver firewood to local households who have run out of firewood and cannot afford to buy more.

Most communities in the United States have excess wood which is thrown away. An important source of firewood comes from efforts to remove material from forests that could potentially fuel a destructive wildfire, like dead or dying trees. 

In its first two years, the grant program funded 80 firewood banks in 24 states. 31% are operated by, or primarily serve, tribes, 19% by faith-based organizations and 47% by non-profits, towns, or community groups, and 3% by businesses.  During the first two year of the program, firewood banks produced more than 20,000 cords of wood to about 20,000 homes. On average, each firewood bank produces more than 200 cords per year, with many western tribal firewood banks leading the way producing 500 to several thousand cords. Nationally, the Alliance for Green Heat has identified more than 150 firewood banks and scores more are likely active. 

Volunteers prepare wood for thousands 
of homes in nearly every US state.
“Firewood is ‘the people’s fuel’, used by rural households who can’t afford fossil fuel, or are trying to be less dependent on it,” said John Ackerly, president of the Alliance for Green Heat.  “It is and always has been an affordable way to reduce fossil fuels and back up heat pumps but the challenge is using it without producing too much smoke.” 

As of May 1, existing wood banks who served households last winter and start-up firewood banks can apply for funding.  Firewood banks seeking a second, renewal grant can apply starting in September. For more information about firewood banks and to apply for funding, visit

About the Alliance for Green Heat

The Alliance for Green Heat promotes modern wood and pellet heating systems as a low-carbon, sustainable and affordable energy solution. The Alliance works to advance cleaner and more efficient residential heating technology, particularly for low and middle-income families. Founded in Maryland in 2009, the Alliance is an independent non-profit organization and is tax-exempt under section 501c3 of the tax code.


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