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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.”

Alaska Board of Forestry Meeting is Aug. 1 in Ketchikan

Media, Alaskans and other members of the public are invited to participate in a Board of Forestry meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 1, in Ketchikan to discuss statewide forestry issues.


Board of Forestry meeting


Landing Hotel, Sunny Point Reception Room, 3434 Tongass Avenue, Ketchikan


Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023, at 8:00 a.m.
(Public testimony in-person and via Zoom scheduled for 1:00 p.m.)

The nine-member Board of Forestry advises the Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources on forestry regulations, provides a forum for those interested in forestry to discuss and seek resolution of issues concerning Alaska's forest resources, and makes recommendations to the Governor and Legislature on research needs.

Topics on the board’s agenda for the upcoming meeting include:

  • Forestry and forest practices related legislation and budget updates
  • State and federal forest management issues, including reports on the Tongass Roadless Rule, Mental Health Trust forestry activity, USFS forestry activity, and Division of Forestry & Fire Protection timber sales, forest management plan revisions, and other timber related initiatives
  • Biomass and wood energy projects and opportunities
  • Public comment

Other forestry matters may be included on the agenda. The meeting is intended to comply with the requirements of AS 41.17.047(b) and (d). The board meeting will be accessible via Zoom as a teleconference and webinar.

Connect via Zoom:
Meeting ID: 819 3933 9668; Passcode: EKz2Cc

Connect via phone:
(719) 359-4580
Meeting ID: 819 3933 9668; Passcode: 692971

Contact Trever Fulton before 12 p.m. on Friday, July 28, for additional information or for special accommodations due to audio or visual impairment. Contact him at any time to be added to the mailing list for announcements of future Board of Forestry meetings.

Contact: Trever Fulton (907) 748-3712 or

Public Comment Open June 15 - July 17 for Scoping for State Carbon Offset Program

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources is accepting public comments on ideas and suggestions for the drafting of regulations related to the recently enacted Senate Bill 48 (Chapter 2, SLA 2023), which authorizes the Department to undertake carbon offset projects on state lands.

Written comments received by the Department of Natural Resources submitted through our online comment portal or by mail must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. on July 17, 2023.

Please send all submissions through either the comment portal at, or by mail to

Ashlee Adoko
Department of Natural Resources
550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 1430
Anchorage, AK 99501

To read the full Notice of Public Scoping and for more information about the public scoping process, visit

For more information about the Carbon Offset Program, please visit

For forest inventory data on state lands that may be eligible for a carbon offset project, please visit the Alaska Statewide Forest Inventory web application at

CONTACT: Trever Fulton | DOF Special Projects Coordinator | 907-269-8476 or

When can you take the class for certifying your own lumber?

Senate Bill 87, which amends state law to allow for a Local Use Lumber Program, passed the legislature in May 2023. The next step is for the Governor to sign the bill. Program funding should then be appropriated to the Division of Forestry and Fire Protection (DOF), July 1, 2023. When DOF receives funding, we can start building the program. A few important steps must happen for the program to be implemented:

  1. Collaborate with the University to hire a Wood Utilization Specialist in the Extension program. DOF Staff are already working with UAF Cooperative Extension Services to build that position. We will continue to work with them and, once the funding has been appropriated, formalize the working relationship with the University to build up that expertise in the University system.
  2. Work with municipalities, housing authorities and funding agencies to allow for the use of locally produced lumber. The success of this program will require these entities to amend their construction standards to allow the use of locally produced lumber in residential construction. We will begin meeting with these groups as soon as Senate Bill 87 is signed and becomes law.
  3. Finish the lumber grading handbook and air drying best practices guide. In anticipation of creating a Local Use Lumber Program, DOF staff began drafting these documents even before the passage of Senate Bill 87. DOF will continue refining these documents and intends to finalize them in collaboration with the new Wood Utilization Specialist.
  4. Host a train-the-trainer event. Once the program has been funded and the details have been worked out, we will host an initial training to go through the grade standards and the educational criteria that trainers will provide. This training will help us learn how best to teach the subject matter.

This process will take some time to get off the ground, but we intent to keep interested members of the industry and the public informed on how things are progressing. We will utilize this website to do that with updates as new developments emerge.

Thank you for your interest in the Local Use Lumber Program.

Tanana Valley State Forest Citizens’ Advisory Committee to meet on Thursday, April 20, 2023

The public is invited to attend the upcoming Tanana Valley State Forest Citizens’ Advisory Committee meeting, at 6:00 pm on Thursday, April 20th. It will be held in the Large Conference Room of the Department of Natural Resources building in Fairbanks at 3700 Airport Way, and will also be available via Microsoft Teams videoconference and teleconference. For videoconference and teleconference details, please see the online notice at

This committee advises the Division on plans and proposals for managing the 1.8 million-acre Tanana Valley State Forest, along with other forested state-owned lands within the Tanana Valley. Public testimony will be accepted around 8:15 pm during the meeting.

Topics for the CAC meeting include:

  • Fairbanks/Delta Area Update
  • Tok Area Update
  • Statewide Forestry update—carbon offset program legislation
  • Wildlife habitat enhancement re-treatments
  • TVSF signs along the Parks Highway
  • TVSF Management Plan Revision update

For special accommodations due to audio or visual impairment, please contact Ashley List by email or phone before close of business on April 19th, at or (907) 269-8481.

For additional information about the TVSF CAC, visit the committee’s webpage at

Grants to “tree-vitalize” Alaska schools offered by state forestry


“Tree-vitalize” your school with a grant from the Alaska Division of Forestry & Fire Protection.

The Division's Community Forestry Program has grants for up to $10,000 for qualifying organizations to purchase trees, supplies, and materials for tree planting as schoolwide or classroom projects. The funding for the grants comes from the U.S. Forest Service.

“This is a great way for schools and other organizations to help beautify school campuses around the state,” said Jim Renkert, Community Forestry Program Manager for the Division of Forestry & Fire Protection. “It also provides a chance to teach students the importance of trees.”

School, soil and water conservation districts, park foundations or other local non-profit organizations are encouraged to apply and sponsor fall, spring or summer tree planting events on school grounds or on nearby non-federal public lands.

Projects should raise awareness about the benefits of trees and the many ecosystem services that they provide. Proposals should demonstrate proper tree planting and care techniques.

The deadline to apply is March 4, 2022. For applications and instructions on how to apply, go to the Division of Forestry & Fire Protection's Community Forestry Program website at Schools are encouraged to involve students in the grant application and planning process.

CONTACT: Josh Hightower, (907) 269-8466, or Jim Renkert, (907) 269-8465,

Governor Dunleavy proposes name change for Division of Forestry to include Fire Protection

Name Change

Governor Mike Dunleavy has introduced an Executive Order that would change the name of the Alaska Division of Forestry to the Alaska Division of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Division Director Helge Eng states, “The Division's current name no longer represents the full range of its responsibilities and priorities.” The proposed name change “clearly reflects the public safety fire suppression responsibilities of the Division, as well as its forestry duties,” he said.

Barring opposition from the Alaska Legislature, the name change will take effect July 1, 2022. The Executive Order was read across the legislative floor on the opening day of the 2022 legislative session in Juneau on Tuesday.

Alaska and the nation now face more intense and longer fire seasons due to increasingly hot and dry summers and forest insect and disease outbreaks. In addition, Alaskans have increasingly chosen to live in high-fire-risk, wildland-urban interface areas. An estimated 80% of Alaska's population live in areas considered high risk for wildland fire.

The proposed name change also aligns with Governor Dunleavy's intent to strengthen Alaska's public safety sector, including fire organizations. The Division of Forestry is currently registered as a fire department under the State Fire Marshal's Office and holds a seat in the Alaska State Fire Chiefs Association.

“Given the demands placed on our firefighters as a result of longer, more intense fire seasons, both in Alaska and the Lower 48, this name change is welcome,” the Division's Wildland Fire & Aviation Chief, Norm McDonald, said. “Our firefighters take great pride in the work they do protecting their fellow Alaskans.”

The Division's wildfire protection program has grown exponentially. Today, more than 90 percent of the Division's budget is spent on protecting the life and property of Alaskans from wildfire.
“Protecting Alaskans from increased wildfire danger is now an equally important aspect of the Division's duties and this Executive Order for the name change helps reflect that,” Governor Dunleavy said. “Our firefighters deserve to be recognized for the job they do protecting the lives and property of Alaskans from wildfire and adding Fire Protection to the agency name helps accomplish that.”
If approved, the name change will help the Division achieve multiple objectives, including:

  • Communicating the Division's important role in protecting the lives and property of Alaskans from wildfire.
  • Improving the division's ability to recruit and retain skilled professional firefighters.
  • Helping the Division obtain federal grants to assist in hazard fuels reduction, training and developing fire crews, and acquiring firefighting gear and equipment.

The name change will have no costs associated with it. Existing physical equipment and supplies will be used until they wear out, and new equipment and supplies will bear the new name of the Division when obtained, Eng said.

CONTACT: DOF public information officer Tim Mowry, (907) 590-4038 or

Spruce Beetle Website Launched

The Spruce Beetle Working Group has recently launched a website with information on spruce beetle in Alaska's trees and forests. It is designed to be used by anyone who is interested in spruce beetles, has questions about spruce beetles, or has spruce beetle issues in their trees.

This website is a collaborative effort among the US Forest Service, the Department of Natural Resources - Division of Forestry & Fire Protection, and the UAF-Cooperative Extension Service.

Forestry Social Media Sites

DOF now has Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube pages:

Individual links to Youtube content: