The new Juneau Forestry Sciences Laboratory, adjacent to the University of Alaska Southeast’s Auke Lake campus, is set for a dedication ceremony Saturday.
The building is a facility of the United States Forest Service’s Portland, Ore.-based Pacific Northwest Research Station, which has been occupying rented space in the old National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration building in the Mendenhall Valley.
Construction finished earlier this spring, and Forest Service staff have been moving into the new building over the past few weeks.
Robert Mangold, acting director of the Pacific Northwest Research Station, is in Juneau for the dedication.
“This is a building we’ve been hoping to have built for decades, and now it’s finally here,” Mangold said Thursday. “It’s a permanent Forest Service home on Auke Lake — beautiful setting. It’s a nice building with a lot of native wood and nice architecture overlooking the lake. We’re collocating with some very nice tenants, the University of Alaska Southeast and the (Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center), and a bunch of branches of the Forest Service. But it’s a research lab facility.”
The Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center is a collaboration between the university, the Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the City and Borough of Juneau for research on temperate rainforests.
UAS Chancellor John Pugh said the director of the center is housed in the laboratory.
Both Mangold and Pugh touted the advantages of having the new building so close to campus.
“We ended up not having a joint facility, but we were able to help support the Forest Service being able to build their facility on the campus,” said Pugh. “And what that does for the university is strengthens our partnerships with the Forest Service, with the Forest Service lab system.”
Cynthia Miner, assistant director of the Pacific Northwest Research Station, said the Forest Service has been hoping to build a research facility on the parcel of land at Auke Lake since acquiring it decades ago.
“Since 1960, we really wanted to have a permanent building,” Miner said.
“You know how these things stop and start, and then finally they get momentum,” Mangold added.
Mangold said the project was finally greenlighted in 2009. Construction crews broke ground in August 2011.
The new facility is about 12,000 square feet. Its exterior has a clean, naturalistic appearance, with light-colored wood used in the construction.
Miner said the building’s energy-saving features, including ground source heat pumps and a heat recovery ventilation system, were a priority for the Forest Service.
“Our utilities costs have always been very high here, but we’re really expecting that over the long haul, this will be very cost-efficient for us,” said Miner, who said the construction cost of the laboratory was about $9 million. That money came out of the Forest Service budget rather than through specific congressional action, she added.
The building incorporates both office space and laboratory space.
“We’ll have very nice labs and be able to do state of the art science,” Mangold said. “I think we’re going to do climate change science. We’re going to be looking at some young growth management as we transition from old growth. We’ll do some forest health work, some aquatic work. It’s a full range of operations.”
Pugh suggested that the laboratory’s proximity to campus will make it “even easier” for UAS to set up internships with the Forest Service and for Forest Service researchers to lecture at the university.
“They get some real benefit by being on a university campus where we can share scientists and resources,” said Pugh.
The dedication ceremony on Saturday will also feature the unveiling of two house posts carved by Wayne Price, a Tlingit master carver, representing the Eagle and Raven moieties.
“We’ll have the elders present to be here with the ceremony on Saturday with traditional song and dance and blessings,” Mangold said. “They’ll be in Native regalia, and it should be a colorful event.”
The formal ceremony, including the post-raising and a ribbon-cutting, will be at 3 p.m.
Prior to that, between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m., free guided tours of the building will be offered to the public every half hour.
Pugh and Mangold will be among the speakers at the event, along with former Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho, whom Miner called “a big supporter of our research.”
Mangold said, “We’re just really looking forward to having this collaborative relationship with the Native Alaskan community here and the university and hope to be doing some great research to make land management decisions better than ever.”
• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.