State proposes making it easier to grade Alaska lumber for local use


September 28, 2022

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 by Alaska State Forester Helge Eng on Sept. 13 at Southeast Conference, a gathering of Southeast Alaska political and business leaders.

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 the state, 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 Alaska.

The Department of Natural Resources 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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