New Hampshire Native Lumber Law

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Self-Study Booklet for the New Hampshire Native Lumber Law

Introduction to RSA 434:59-61, the Grading and Certification or Stamping of Native Lumber

Under this law, sawmills can self-certify softwood lumber they produce and sell directly to an end-user for use in a structure that requires, by building-code, the use of graded and stamped softwood lumber. Though all sawmills are required to register with the N.H. Division of Forests and Lands, mills aren't required to participate in the provisions of this law—in fact most don't.

To be eligible to issue Native Lumber Certificates, a sawmill must:

  • Register with the N.H. Division of Forests and Lands.
  • Complete a self-study course and pass the test administered by UNH Cooperative Extension.
  • Receive a permit from the N.H. Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food.

The NH Native Lumber Law applies to softwood lumber—not hardwood lumber

The law pertains to softwood lumber that is equal to, or better than, the No. 2 grade (American Softwood Lumber Standard), or as amended, provided that lumber for use in load-bearing wall-members shall be of stud-grade-minimum.  Softwoods are coniferous trees which include pine, spruce, fir, hemlock, tamarack and cedar. The lumber may be green or dry and of any softwood species.

When sawmills issue a Native Lumber Certificate

Sawmills aren't required to issue a native lumber certificate unless the municipality in which the lumber will be used requires a certificate as an alternative to using grade-stamped lumber (lumber which is graded by a grade-stamping agency such as NeLMA—the Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association).

Certificates are issued by the permitted mill to the purchaser with each load of native lumber. If required by the local code enforcement officer, a copy of the certificate is filed with the building permit application for a specific end-use.

The following information must be on the certificate:

  • Species
  • Quantity
  • Address of where lumber will be used
  • Whether it is green or dry
  • Sawmill name
  • Grader name
  • Date of sale

Sawmills aren't required to stamp the native lumber.

Stamping is optional. Some mills choose to create a stamp which contains the mill name, location, and permit number. Regardless, a certificate must accompany every lumber shipment, as it is intended for a particular purchaser for use in a specific structure in a given town.

The “grader” represents him/herself and the sawmill.

The grader signs the certificate as the person responsible for the certificate’s accuracy but also represents the mill which is providing the lumber.

The permit expires after five years.

The permit is effective for 5 years at which time the grader may renew the permit by retaking the test.

A sawmill, which has participated in the native lumber program, can grade lumber and issue a certificate for another sawmill.

A permitted grader from one sawmill can issue a certificate for another sawmill provided the other sawmill is registered under RSA 227-1:9 and completed other provisions of the NH Native Lumber Law.

For a list of sawmills permitted to issue native lumber certificates

The N.H. Dept. of Agriculture, Markets & Food maintains a list of the mills and the graders of those mills who may issue the certificates. 

For more information

To arrange to take the test and for general information—UNH Cooperative Extension, (603) 862-3883 or forest.info@unh.edu

To register a sawmill—N.H. Division of Forests and Lands, (603) 271-2214

To become permitted—N.H. Dept.of Agriculture, Markets & Food, (603) 271-3685.