Construction underway on new forestry research lab

Conceptual rendering of the U.S Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station Juneau Forestry Sciences Laboratory planned for near Auke Lake.

Nearly three decades after it was first proposed and designed, construction is now getting underway on the Pacific Northwest Research Station’s Juneau Forestry Sciences Laboratory.

Ground was broken Thursday afternoon on the new lab adjacent to the University of Alaska Southeast campus, just down the foot and bike path from the Egan Library.

The U.S. Forest Service’s Paul Brewster, assistant director of the Research Station and head of the Juneau lab, says funding for the $8.3 million dollar facility was finally approved in the last year and a half.

“They have a national priority list for facilities,” say Brewster. ”This being a research facility, it’s sort of looked at separate from other administrative facilities like the Juneau Ranger District office out there.”

Brewster believed its location next to UAS and potential opportunities for students to become involved with forest research could have helped bump the lab to the top of the priority list.

About twenty Forest Service employees are expected to move into the facility when it’s completed and opens in the latter half of next year.

Research Station Lab members are currently working out of the old NOAA fish laboratory in Auke Bay.

Previously, they worked out of facilities on Sherwood Lane, just down the street from the Alaska State Troopers and Department of Motor Vehicles. But an audit revealed health and safety concerns, and poorly functioning lab space.

For more on the new laboratory, check out the story in this newscast that aired Friday morning: