Wood for Life tribal fuelwood initiative receives national award

The Wood for Life partnership was awarded the Volunteer and Service Citizen Stewardship and Partnerships Award for its innovative work in bringing warmth to indigenous homes. Through a partnership now totaling more than 60 organizations, they have connected wood from forest restoration projects to Navajo and Hopi community members in need of firewood. (Photo/Wood for Life)

The Wood for Life partnership was awarded the Volunteer and Service Citizen Stewardship and Partnerships Award for its innovative work in bringing warmth to indigenous homes. Through a partnership now totaling more than 60 organizations, they have connected wood from forest restoration projects to Navajo and Hopi community members in need of firewood. (Photo/Wood for Life)

TUBA CITY, Ariz.. — The Wood for Life partnership has been awarded the Volunteer and Service Citizen Stewardship and Partnerships Award by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service for its innovative work to bring warmth to indigenous homes. The National Forest Foundation accepted the award on behalf of the partnership in a ceremony in Flagstaff last week.

Wood For Life is a partnership between government agencies, indigenous communities and conservation non profits addressing large scale reforestation efforts in northern Arizona. The NFF, in partnership with the USDA Forest Service removes small diameter timber from national forests to prevent wildfires and insect infestation. The wood is then delivered to Tribal partners who distribute it among communities to help heat the homes of indigenous families. Offering a sustainable solution for healthy forest restoration projects by putting wood that would otherwise go to waste toward an important cause.

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The Wood for Life partnership was awarded the Volunteer and Service Citizen Stewardship and Partnerships Award for its innovative work in bringing warmth to indigenous homes. Through a partnership now totaling more than 60 organizations, they have connected wood from forest restoration projects to Navajo and Hopi community members in need of firewood. (Photo/Wood for Life)

Each year, the Volunteer and Service Citizen and Partnership Award is awarded to the organization that serves on mission-critical projects on public lands and to acknowledge the collective of volunteers and service participants who were particularly impactful in Forest Service efforts. Among those nominated in 2021 were volunteers, Forest Service employees and conservation organizations across the country working to address cultural diversity, restoration, stewardship, service and leadership necessities. See the full list of nominees here.

“We are honored to receive this award and grateful for the national recognition. Wood For Life is a collaboration to help communities and forests thrive in unison. It takes every one of the partners to make this effort happen, including thousands of hours of effort by youth and volunteers who process and distribute firewood provided from restoration projects. Together, we’re building a model for successful partnership relevant to many places across the country where forests need restoration and communities rely on firewood.”

Sasha Stortz, Southwest Program Sr. Manager at the NFF.

“The Wood for Life program has demonstrated great success in helping to advance critical restoration efforts in our national forests while delivering much needed fuelwood to Tribal partners,” says Michiko Martin, regional forester for the USDA Forest Service’s Southwestern Region. “We are thrilled to award Wood For Life the 2021 Volunteer and Citizen Stewardship award for its important work and hope that this program can serve as a model for restoration, collaboration and partnerships throughout the region and the country.”

Wood For Life launched in 2019 in northern Arizona and has since expanded to southwest Colorado. Together the NFF and the Forest Service are exploring possibilities of expansion across other states knowing that many communities affected by COVID-19 could benefit from these efforts.

Wood For Life relies on partners and donations to sustain the operational aspects of processing and delivering of the wood and to ensure families stay warm and forests stay healthy and safe for everyone to enjoy.

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