JUNEAU – Rep. Kreiss-Tomkins and Rep. Ortiz voiced their support today for the Department of Natural Resources and the Division of Forestry’s plan to develop a local lumber grading training program in Alaska, similar to Wisconsin’s Local Use Dimension Lumber (WLUDL) grading certification. This initiative will increase marketability of second-growth forest products produced in Alaska to preserve industry jobs, expand the current sustainable local lumber market, lower home-building costs, and stimulate rural economies.
Despite high demand for locally-sourced dimensional lumber, small Alaskan sawmills cannot sell their lumber for load-bearing construction purposes such as one- and two-family residential units. The State of Alaska’s building codes require lumber to be graded and stamped for these types of construction projects, but Alaska does not currently have a local grading or self-certification option. The majority of wood used for residential construction must therefore be sourced from the Lower 48 or Canada.
“Alaskans should be able to use local lumber for their load-bearing construction projects, including homes,” said Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tompkins (D-Sitka). “It’s just common sense. With housing shortages and high construction costs, it’s in everyone’s best interest to create a local lumber grading option.”
“This program would make Alaskan products available for Alaskans, and it’s a win-win for multiple sectors of the market,” said Representative Dan Ortiz(I-Ketchikan). “I encourage stakeholders and future legislatures and administrations to expand on this program idea.”
“The Sitka Conservation Society is supportive of this proposed program because it would allow for more widespread use of local forest products and help us build more sustainable communities with stronger economic linkages,” said Andrew Thoms, Director of Sitka Conservation Society. “This program, and work with local young growth timber, is part of a larger region-wide process of collaboration to figure out the best ways to manage our forest lands for long term social, economic, and environmental sustainability.”
This training program is additionally supported by the Southeast Conference, small sawmills and contractors, and Alaskans who care about decreasing housing costs and expanding housing options across the state. By increasing opportunities for small mills to grade their own lumber, Alaskans will be able to buy local lumber for their home construction needs and dreams, decrease shipment carbon pollution, and stimulate local economies.