Firewood assistance programs expand in Maine

Firewood assistance programs expand in Maine

Rotary Membership members Scott Hynek, left to proper, Steve Wight and Brenda Blond cut up wooden throughout a ‘slicing and splitting’ session to bolster the membership’s wooden provide for the approaching winter. Picture submitted

You have heard of meals banks, however what about wooden banks?

Much like meals banks, which give free meals gadgets to households in want, wooden banks present firewood to households who’ve neither the monetary means nor the bodily capability to supply firewood.

For the previous decade, volunteers from the Rotary Membership of Bethel have cut up and hauled firewood for native residents in want. It’s one in every of a number of organizations within the state offering heating help to Mainers with woodstoves.

In search of to encourage communities to create extra wooden banks and join present applications throughout the state and nation, the College of Maine just lately acquired a $62,500 grant from the US Division of Agriculture.

Jessica Leahy, a forestry professor, will lead the tasks on the college and work with collaborators from the College of Massachusetts at Amherst and the Alliance for Inexperienced Warmth, a Maryland-based nonprofit group.

Rotary Membership members Scott Hynek, left to proper, Steve Wight and Richard Kenney cut up firewood throughout a current ‘lower and cut up’ session. The group supplies firewood to native households in want. Picture submitted

Universities will analysis timber banks throughout the nation and create academic sources to assist begin and maintain these applications, in addition to internet hosting an internet nationwide timber financial institution summit.

“Chopping your individual firewood sounds nice, however you want a chainsaw, you want security tools, you want a automobile to move it,” Leahy stated. “There are only a lot of issues that come into play. And so, not everybody can do this.

Tight funds, bodily incapacity and age can all hamper an individual’s capability to get their very own firewood, she stated. For individuals confronted with the selection between meals or heat throughout Maine’s freezing winters, wooden banks could be a important neighborhood useful resource.

“There is a widespread perception that individuals are actually accountable when asking for wooden,” Leahy stated. “Many teams in Maine do not use a verification course of for individuals to show their revenue. They imagine individuals (are trustworthy),” she stated.


This was a one-time donation from a neighborhood resident who began the Bethel Rotary Membership firewood program greater than 10 years in the past.

Now firewood coordinator Scott Hynek says he realizes the logs had been donated to encourage the membership to do exactly that.

“We did not perceive that straight away,” he stated. “All we knew was that the wooden had magically appeared, and I lastly discovered what occurred.”

Annually, Hynek and different membership members maintain a variety of “lower and cut up” classes, typically with volunteers from Dirigo Excessive Faculty.

Native residents with additional logs or undesirable downed timber invite the membership to come back and course of the wooden. The membership then transports and shops the cut up wooden till winter arrives.

Over the previous few winters, the group has usually supplied firewood to 4 households, Hynek stated.

Rotary membership member Bruce Powell helps cut up and stack lumber for the membership’s lumber financial institution earlier this 12 months. The group supplies firewood to native households in want. Picture submitted

Asking for wooden is easy and often nameless, Hynek stated. Residents are welcome contact him personally with requests. The one different one who is aware of who the wooden goes to is the motive force, he stated.

The membership is at all times on the lookout for donated wooden and volunteers to assist remodel it.

Typically amassing wooden for this system is so simple as serving to to take away an undesirable fallen tree.

“Not everybody in Maine is aware of the right way to use a chainsaw,” he stated. “We’ll simply clear up the yard, take away the tree. Everyone is blissful.

Of their finest 12 months, the group cut up 12 cords of wooden. This 12 months will in all probability be smaller, however they don’t seem to be over but. Their subsequent slicing and splitting session is scheduled for this weekend.

“It is vital as a result of most individuals who warmth with wooden aren’t individuals who have plenty of more money anyway,” Hynek stated. “It isn’t so simple as letting your thermostat and checkbook do it with oil.”

And like many different issues nowadays, he stated the costs for getting firewood had been rising.

“It is (simply) a chunk (of) the form of stuff that Rotary golf equipment do all over the place,” Hynek stated. “This can be a service earlier than self operation.”


Leahy started researching timber banks in 2014 with then-undergraduate pupil Sabrina Vivian. The duo have written a information to assist communities start and manage their own wood banks.

Whereas trying to find the information, they held a summit to carry collectively lumber banks throughout Maine and study extra about their applications. Leahy stated members’ operations ranged in dimension from a girl who paid to maintain the stake on the finish of her driveway stocked to giant teams with their very own processing tools.

“Timber banks are by nature a neighborhood phenomenon,” Leahy stated. “You do not need to transfer firewood very far.”

Uncommon are the timber banks that current themselves as such. Many are run informally and solely identified to those that reside in the neighborhood.

When Vivian and Leahy had been researching timber banks in 2015, that they had solely recognized a handful in Maine. Since then, others have been created.

In addition to that of Bethel, there are additionally identified timber banks situated in cumberland, Orleans, Boothbay Harbor, Penobscot and thru Waldo County.

Probably the most profitable applications are people who make sluggish progress in growing their course of and figuring out a superb location, Leahy stated. She recommends these excited by beginning timber banks contact different profitable organizations within the state and take heed to neighborhood members to search out out what’s going to work finest.

A requirement evaluation performed by Vivian and Leahy in 2015 discovered that residents close to Farmington, Rangeley, Buckfield, Canton, Stoneham and Brownfield may discover timber banks significantly helpful. The evaluation thought-about revenue ranges and the variety of wood-burning houses utilizing census knowledge.

This 12 months, the Alliance for Inexperienced Warmth will distribute grants to present wooden banks between $5,000 and $15,000. However subsequent 12 months, this system will increase to assist fund new, newly created timber banks.

And as useful as wooden banks may be for these in want, it is also an effective way to construct neighborhood, Leahy and Hynek agreed.

“It is no one’s concept of ​​a enjoyable factor to do, chopping and splitting wooden,” Hynek stated. “However for those who’re working with a gaggle of those who you understand and know effectively, it may be plenty of enjoyable. Kids (highschool college students) notice this. It’s a great factor that they know.

“I simply assume the social capital that folks get from working collectively to assist their neighbors – it is nice to carry individuals their firewood and construct a neighborhood on the identical time, and the wooden banks present that” , stated Leahy.

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