SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Idea for Local Use Lumber Program

By Rep. Dan Ortiz


August 28, 2022

Lettter to the Editor:

Our timber industry has been an integral part of Southeast for generations. Like many people, the timber industry directly impacted my life: I worked for the Ketchikan Pulp Mill during summers and a short stint in the late 1970s, which helped pay for my college education.

Prior to the pandemic in 2019, timber industry jobs were up by 10% and wages up by 20% (“Southeast Alaska by the Numbers 2020”). I was hopeful to see that sector growing again. Since then, we have seen another downward trend in timber supply, sales, and jobs, which has led to conversations with Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources and the US Forest Service about ideas for strengthening the timber economy.

One idea that has come to the forefront, thanks to stakeholder input, is a Local Use Lumber Program. Currently, small timber businesses are excluded from a large portion of the market because they can’t provide Alaskan construction lumber for any jobs that require a building permit. If we could effectively grade the lumber for permitted construction uses, over 30 small mills could break into the market. Some stakeholders believe that self-certification – or making small operators their own graders – can be a viable solution.

Of course, it is easier said than done. There are more conversations to be had and few issues to be to be ironed out: who assumes liability? How can we get inspectors, contractors, and insurance agencies on board? How can we make such an intensive Lumber Grading education program accessible and of high quality? Ultimately, how can we expand the market while providing the highest standards of our local Alaskan lumber?

Luckily, other states like Wisconsin have addressed these issues and have developed a programmatic solution that has been successfully replicated in other states. I believe this solution could be possible for Alaska, and I look forward to continued conversations and input on how to best support our local timber industry. If you have any questions or suggestions regarding our timber industry, don’t hesitate to contact my office at 907-465-3824 or email me at


Rep. Dan Ortiz
Ketchikan, Alaska




Editor's Note:

The text of this letter was NOT edited by the SitNews Editor.

Opinions expressed are solely those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Sitnews.

Received August 22,2022 - Published August 28,2022

Related Viewpoint:



Representations of facts and opinions are solely those of the writers and do not represent the opinions of Sitnews.


E-mail your letters & opinions to
Your full name, city and state are required for letter publication.

Published letters become the property of SitNews.

SitNews ©2022
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

Articles & photographs that appear in SitNews are considered protected by copyright and may not be reprinted without written permission from and payment of any required fees to the proper sources.

E-mail your news & photos to

Photographers choosing to submit photographs for publication to SitNews are in doing so granting their permission for publication and for archiving. SitNews does not sell photographs. All requests for purchasing a photograph will be emailed to the photographer.