Gov. Mike Dunleavy signs S.B. 7 into law at Papoose Milling on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023, in Big Lake, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s Office)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy signs S.B. 7 into law at Papoose Milling on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023, in Big Lake, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s Office)

Dunleavy signs lumber bill

Sponsored by Nikiski Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, the bill establishes a lumber grade training program

It’s about to get easier for Alaska’s mill operators to grade their own lumber.

That’s following Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s signing of S.B. 87 on Wednesday, which establishes a free, one-day lumber grade training program through the Alaska Division of Forestry that will train mill operators to grade lumber.

At Papoose Milling in Big Lake, Dunleavy, bracing the bill on a pile of wood, signed the legislation — sponsored by Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski — into law. The bill passed in both chambers of the Alaska Legislature in May with broad bipartisan support.

“Creating new opportunities for lumber sales through the local lumber grading program can serve as a catalyst to help grow Alaska’s timber sector by lowering the barrier of entry for new sawmills,” Bjorkman is quoted as saying in a press release distributed Wednesday.

Issuance of grading certificates to people who complete the program or who already meet the qualifications outlined in the bill, the release says, can help remove barriers for small sawmills in Alaska. The one-day program will be offered at least once per year with the content, instruction qualifications and completion requirements determined by the division.

Successful completion of the state program established in the bill will allow participants to receive a grading certificate that would be good for five years. The bill also allows the Alaska Division of Forestry to give certificates to people who either hold a current certification from an accredited grading agency or have a bachelor’s or postgraduate degree in forest products or equivalent degree.

Load-bearing dimensional lumber graded and certified as described by the bill can be used for one-, two- and three-family dwellings in Alaska. The bill requires that lumber be milled in a way that meets or exceeds the requirements of the applicable building code for the type of dwelling being built.

People who hold the kind of certificate made available in the bill can only grade lumber that they’ve milled and, if used to build dwellings, must sell directly to the building contractor, the owner of the dwelling or a person acting on behalf of either. Local inspectors authorized to examine a dwelling may restrict or reject the use of such lumber.

Dunleavy’s office in a press release touted the grading program as one that will help reduce Alaska’s dependence on lumber imported from Canada and the Lower 48 and help sawmills get lumber to market.

“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,” the release says. “As a result, most dimensional lumber in Alaska is imported from the Pacific Northwest and Canada where stamped lumber is produced.”

More information about S.B. 87 can be found on the bill page at

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at

More in News

Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly Candidate Bill Elam waves signs on election day on Tuesday, Oct 3, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voters take to the polls during Tuesday municipal election

Poll workers report low turnout across the central peninsula

Some of the pumpkins submitted to the pumpkin-decorating contest are seen here during the 5th annual Kenai Fall Pumpkin Festival in Kenai, Alaska, on Oct. 10, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion file)
Kenai’s Fall Pumpkin Fest set for Saturday

The fun actually starts early, as a central element of the festival is a pumpkin decorating contest already underway

Aurora Borealis Charter School Art and Music Teacher Eleanor Van Sickle leads students in a performance of "Autumn Canon," a Hungarian song at a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education meeting on Monday, Oct. 2, 2023 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Student serenade

Aurora Borealis Charter School students sing at the assembly during the regular school board meeting on Monday

Bear 747, defending Fat Bear Week Champion, stands on the bank of the Brooks River in Katmai National Park, Alaska. The winner of a Thursday matchup between Bear 128 Grazer and Bear 151 Walker will meet 747 in Fat Bear Week competition on Saturday. (Photo courtesy C. Cravatta/National Park Service)
Survival of the fattest

Paunchy ursine competitors go head-to-head in annual Fat Bear Week

Soldotna Elementary School Principal Dr. Austin Stevenson walks amid natural gas pipes anchored to the outside of school on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
High costs stall work on school bond

A cost estimate for the reconstruction of Soldotna Elementary School came back $13.5 million over budget

(City of Seward)
Police standoff closes Seward Highway

Police say standoff was with ‘barricaded individual,’ not escaped inmate

Mount Redoubt can be seen across Cook Inlet from North Kenai Beach on Thursday, July 2, 2022. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Alaska not included in feds’ proposed 5-year oil and gas program

The plan includes a historically low number of proposed sales

A copy of "People, Paths, and Places: The Frontier History of Moose Pass, Alaska" stands in sunlight in Soldotna, Alaska, on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Moose Pass to receive award for community historical effort

“People, Paths, and Places: The Frontier History of Moose Pass, Alaska” was a collaboration among community members

Most Read