Alaska in Brief

To boost local lumber, Alaska plans to alter quality-testing requirement

By: - September 16, 2022 1:37 pm

An inspection stamp is seen on a wooden pallet in Juneau on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources is preparing a new program that would allow Alaska sawmills to sell lumber for local construction without having that wood graded for quality by an Outside inspector. 

The program was announced Tuesday at Southeast Conference, a gathering of Southeast Alaska political and business leaders, by Alaska State Forester Helge Eng.

Eng said the program, which may take two years to implement, would encourage the growth of Alaska’s lumber industry by making it easier to use locally produced lumber.

Many residential building codes require lumber be graded for strength and quality by a national organization before being used in construction. 

As planned by DNR, the first phase of the program would allow builders to use ungraded lumber in some construction projects, if local building code officials approve. In a second phase, the state would set up a program to train sawmill operators to grade their own lumber for quality, expanding the possible uses.

Eng said the cost of bringing an Outside grader to Alaska is prohibitive for small sawmills.

Seven states, including Wisconsin and New Hampshire, have laws or regulations similar to the system proposed by DNR.

The department is requesting public input on the proposal. It expects that it will take at least one year, and likely longer, to develop regulations for the program.


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James Brooks
James Brooks

James Brooks is a longtime Alaska reporter, having previously worked at the Anchorage Daily News, Juneau Empire, Kodiak Mirror and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. A graduate of Virginia Tech, he is married to Caitlyn Ellis, owns a house in Juneau and has a small sled dog named Barley. He can be contacted at [email protected].