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Governor Dunleavy Signs Bill to Establish Alaska Lumber Grading Program

Aug 30, 2023

Today Governor Mike Dunleavy signed SB 87 into law, establishing a lumber grading training program for sawmill operators in Alaska.

The lumber grading program will help local sawmills get their product to market and reduce Alaska’s dependence on lumber shipped in from Canada and the Lower 48 for residential construction.

“The timber industry is an integral part of Alaska’s history. This lumber grading program will help shape the timber industry for Alaskan small businesses to allow them to thrive now and in the future,” said Governor Mike Dunleavy.

“This law is critical to implement the state’s local construction lumber program as we continue to grow Alaska’s timber industry,” said Department of Natural Resources Commissioner John Boyle. “I want to thank Senator Bjorkman, Representative Sumner, and the other legislators who agreed with DNR on the importance of training sawmill operators locally to grade quality Alaskan lumber – creating jobs, lowering construction costs, and solving supply chain issues.”

Membership in a lumber grading agency can be cost prohibitive for small sawmills. In Alaska, many sawmills do not produce enough lumber to justify the cost of membership in a lumber grading agency accredited by the American Lumber Standards Committee. As a result, most dimensional lumber in Alaska is imported from the Pacific Northwest and Canada where stamped lumber is produced.

SB 87 directs the Alaska Division of Forestry to develop a lumber grading program and issue lumber grading certificates to individuals who complete the program or meet other specific qualifications.

The certification authorizes the individual to grade load-bearing dimensional lumber that they mill. The bill specifies when the lumber can be used in residential construction and requirements for informing the purchaser of the designating characteristics of the lumber. The bill allows a home inspector to authorize the use of the lumber, reject its use, or authorize use with more restrictive construction requirements.

“This legislation is helpful for a developing industry. I look forward to managing our forests through sustainable harvest with regards to natural regeneration,” said Andrew Traxler, owner of Papoose Milling in Big Lake. “Thank you to Governor Dunleavy and the legislature for passing this important legislation.”