As temperatures dip below freezing this time of year, lumber banks across the state are calling in volunteers to help stockpile firewood for the winter months.
Each year, the state’s wood banks aim to obtain enough wood to help community members stay warm. But, there is a difference this year – with rising fuel prices, the demand for firewood is expected to skyrocket.
To help meet the demand, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service has awarded $712,000 to the Alliance for Green Heat, a nonprofit organization that pushes for cleaner, more efficient use of coal heating. wood. The organization will offer grants between $5,000 and $15,000 to support firewood banks this winter.
Applications for the grants will open on October 17.
“We want to make sure the timber banks have enough money to buy leggings, the special pants you wear when you cut firewood, and enough equipment so you can process more wood,” said the founder and president of the Alliance for Green Heat, John Ackerly.
Mary Congoran, the organizer of the Wood for Warmth program and the Sean Powers Wood Bank in Hopkinton, said it was a wonderful surprise when she heard about the generous grants that will be available to wood banks. She hopes the grants will help secure firewood as a source of heating for more communities.
Timber banks, like the one Congoran operates, rely heavily on volunteer labor and donations to cut, split, season and deliver firewood to local households who cannot afford to buy more.
One of the volunteers is Joyce Rose, secretary of the Contoocook Carry Community Fund. Rose and her husband work as lumberjacks. Each year, they lend their trucks and men to deliver wood to homes. She noted that firewood orders have increased this year.
“I believe that due to the increased cost of fuel, many people will be more dependent on wood than in previous years,” Rose said.
Melissa Gallagher, executive director of The Grapevine, a community center that operates a lumber bank in Hillsborough County, said the grants could help them increase their ability to accept different types of lumber.
“We don’t have our own log splitter,” Gallagher said. “But if we had the funds to buy a log splitter, we could potentially receive larger logs which could then be cut here on site.”
Lumber banks will be able to step up their efforts to provide firewood this winter with the funding, but Ackerly wants to make sure safety is not overlooked.
“We’re going to make sure each group has a moisture meter to test the moisture in the wood and determine if it’s properly dried,” Ackerly said.
The ideal moisture content for firewood is less than 20%. Burning wood with a higher moisture content is a safety hazard because it produces more smoke and creosote, which can cause a chimney fire.
■ Sean Powers Wood Bank, Hopkinton, 603-568-2783
■ Grapevine Community Timber Bank, Antrim, 603-588-7154
■ Lumber Ministry at Kearsarge Presbyterian Church, 603-526-4800
■Peterborough Community Lumber Bank, Peterborough, 603-924-6800
■Warner Community Wood Bank, Warner, 603-456-3303