Sustainable forest restoration project receives $50,000 from the Arizona Lottery
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (May 19, 2023) — The Arizona Lottery has partnered with the National Forest Foundation (NFF) in an effort to mitigate wildfire danger, promote environmental conservation, and provide much-needed energy assistance to Tribal communities in Northern Arizona. This partnership provides $50,000 to NFF to support the "Wood For Life" program, to process downed trees from forest health and restoration projects, providing much-needed fuelwood to Navajo and Hopi communities.
On Thursday, May 18th, the Arizona Lottery and NFF hosted a wood collection event in Coconino National Forest, near Flagstaff, alongside Hopi Coordinator for Ancestral Lands, Marshall Masayesva, and representatives from the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management. Multiple youth crews were able to cut and process downed and densely populated trees using tools such as ATVs, log arches, chainsaws, and splitters.
The Wood Collection Event not only emphasizes the significance of wildfire mitigation but also highlights the NFF and the Arizona Lottery’s commitment to environmental conservation in Arizona. Through this collaboration, NFF has been able to provide top-quality wood products to the Navajo and Hopi communities, promoting tribal economies while creating healthy forests and decreasing the risk of catastrophic wildfires in the state.
The Ponderosa pine forests of Northern Arizona have suffered from unhealthy conditions, leading to severe wildfires that have a detrimental impact on forest health, community safety, and downstream water quality, including the Phoenix metro area. To address this issue, the National Forest Foundation's Wood for Life program has partnered with the Forest Service, Tribal governments and communities, the Ancestral Lands conservation corps, and other nonprofits to facilitate the distribution of small-diameter timber from restoration projects led by NFF and the Forest Service. These partners then work with tribal members to split the wood and provide it to elders and other community members in need of firewood for traditional and home heating purposes. This sustainable solution helps mitigate the risk of severe wildfires while also supporting tribal communities in Arizona.
“The Arizona Lottery is honored to partner with the National Forest Foundation and support the Wood for Life program,” said Arizona Lottery Executive Director, Alec Esteban Thomson. “Through this partnership, we are helping to mitigate wildfires and work with the Navajo Nation and The Hopi Tribe to ensure that the wood collected is fully utilized, supporting a full-circle impact for fallen trees in the national forest.
This partnership is an extension of the funding the Arizona Lottery provides to state programs, like the Heritage Fund, by helping to preserve and protect our iconic native wildlife and landscapes.
“We are incredibly grateful to all our partners that help make the NFF’s work in Northern Arizona possible,” says Sasha Stortz, Sr. Southwest Program Manager at the NFF. “The Wood for Life program allows for agency partners and community members to come together and actively engage in forest stewardship so that both Arizona forests and communities thrive.”
"The Department of Forestry and Fire Management collaborates with many state agencies on projects like this one to reduce wildfire risk and improve forest health, and to ensure that our residents have the tools that they need to stay healthy, protected and safe," said Department of Forestry and Fire Management, State Forester Thomas Torres.
The Arizona Lottery funds programs that benefit the public through higher education, economic development, health and human services, and in this case, environmental conservation. This fiscal year alone, the Arizona Lottery provided $10 million dollars to the Arizona Game and Fish Department Heritage Fund, totaling $454 million since 1993.
The National Forest Foundation is a non-profit 501(C)(3) that engages the entire country in community-based and national programs to promote the health and public enjoyment of the 193-million-acre National Forest System, and administers private funds and land for the benefit of the National Forests.
To learn more about how the Arizona Lottery Gives Back, please visit www.arizonalottery.com/gives-back/.
To learn more about the National Forest Foundation’s “Wood For Life” program, please visit www.nationalforests.org.