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With $600K Grant, Ashland Considers Supplying A More Natural Type Of Timber

Lumber industry
Robert F. Bukaty
Massive stacks of eastern white pine dwarf Glenn Rowe, a scaler at Hancock Lumber, Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in Bethel, Maine. Rowe uses a scaling ruler to measure length and diameter to determine how many board feet the mill will get after the wood is cut.

The northern Maine town of Ashland hopes to become a big supplier of type of lumber that's becoming more popular.

Trees are often sawed down into planks for the construction of homes, businesses and other buildings.

But the timber that Ashland hopes to produce — so-called structural round timber — holds much of its natural structure when used as beams and columns. It’s rounded off, rather than rectangular like traditional timber, and looks more like whole sections of tree.

During a presentation Thursday, Town Manager Cyr Martin said he’s not aware of any regional facilities currently making structural round timber.

“But we are well accessible with all our forests to get that going," Martin said.

Ashland has received a $600,000 grant to partner with other groups to explore the potential for making structural round timber. Backers of the effort say that it's more strong and environmentally friendly than milled lumber.