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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

'Buy Local, Burn Local': How Heating With Wood Supports Vermont's Economy

Firewood stacked in a shed.
Emily Corwin
To answer this month's listener question about wood heat, 'Brave Little State' explores wood heat technologies, air quality, forestry practices and carbon emissions.

“What are the environmental and economic benefits of wood heat in Vermont? And then what are the costs to that?” That question comes to Brave Little State from Coco Moseley of Lincoln, who – like many Vermonters – heats her family’s home with an antique wood stove.

To answer Coco’s question, Brave Little State host Angela Evancie and investigative reporter Emily Corwin spoke with loggers, a forest ecosystem scientist, a public health researcher, and visited Goddard College’s massive state-of-the-art wood chip boiler plant.

Wood heating, it turns out, is such a complex issue that Evancie and Corwin ended up playing "good cop, bad cop" as a way to explore the pros and cons.

One of the more enthusiastic proponents of wood heat is Emma Hanson, the wood energy coordinator at the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation. She said wood heat keeps money in the Vermont economy.

“My favorite thing to point out when I'm talking about wood heat in Vermont is that when Vermonters heat with fossil fuel, 78 cents of every dollar leaves the state,” Hanson said. “Whereas when we heat with locally sourced wood, the inverse of that is true. So all that money stays right here in our communities, creating jobs for our neighbors, retaining local wealth. It's all those fuzzy, feel-good things you get when you buy produce from the farmers market, same idea.”

Hanson said that heating with wood is also often cheaper, especially when it's harvested from your backyard.

Listen to an excerpt of this episode from VPR's people-powered podcast above.

Catch the full Brave Little State episode here.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
Angela Evancie serves as Vermont Public's Senior VP of Content, and was the Director of Engagement Journalism and the Executive Producer of Brave Little State, the station's people-powered journalism project.
Bayla joined VPR in 2018 as the producer for Morning Edition. She left in 2019.
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