The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service awarded $62,500 to the University of Maine for the National Wood Bank Project, which aims to provide operational support for national research and outreach programs related to wood banks.
Log banks have been around for a long time, although they are not always recognized or called log banks. In Maine, neighbors donated firewood to neighbors in times of need, and community organizations came together to organize volunteer firewood events. This support from the USDA Forest Service will help lumber banks expand their efforts at the local level, according to a university press release.
Jessica Leahy, a UMaine professor of forestry with a research position at the Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station, will lead the projects with collaborators from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. The project is part of a nationwide effort to promote wood banking involving the USDA Forest Service, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and the Alliance for Green Heat, a nonprofit organization that promotes warming cleaner, more efficient and more affordable.
“UMaine has been a leader in research and outreach related to timber banks in New England, so it’s only natural that we play a role in this expansion of support for timber banks across the United States,” says Leahy, who has worked with lumber banks in Maine since 2014.
“Ultimately, we will create a network of wood bank peers to support each other as they serve their communities and help those in need with warmth during the winters,” Leahy said.
“The University of Maine’s outreach efforts will bring together timber banks across the country to share challenges, resources, and best practices,” said Steve Koehn, USDA Forest Service Director for Cooperative Forestry. . “This national collaboration will help wood banks better serve communities and people using a renewable heat source.
Additionally, the Alliance for Green Heat will distribute direct grants to lumber banks using USDA Forest Service funding. Grants of between $5,000 and $15,000 are available this year for existing timber banks, and in future years the program will expand to new and newly established timber banks.
Applications are available at firewoodbanks.org.
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