The American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC) did not make a decision at yesterday's hearing regarding the Southern Pine Inspection Bureau's (SPIB) proposal to downgrade design values for Southern pine.

The ALSC, a quasi-governmental agency authorized to set grading standards for lumber used in residential and commercial construction, heard presentations at the meeting from a number of organizations seeking to slowdown the proposal so that is could be better analyzed. After hearing the presentations, the ALSC went into executive session, but did not clarify when a decision would be made.

"The uncertainty continues," said Richard Wallace, vice president of the Southern Forest Products Association (SFPA). "This will have a big ripple effect."

The proposal has been a major topic of discussion amongst those involved in the construction and building material retail industries since it was made known in early October. Originally opponents attacked the proposal saying it could have large effects on the construction industry, including the delay or stoppage of numerous projects due to an increase in material costs and devalue the current supply of Southern pine at dealer and component manufacturers' facilities.

Recently, though, opponents have changed tactics and have gone after the process by which the proposal was composed. Kirk Grundahl, executive director of the Structural Building Components Association, who attended the meeting, said the majority of presenters and interested parties weren't so much against what the proposal wanted to change, but were upset that more parties were not involved.

"The more people involved means more ideas are put out on the table and the best ones can be taken and put in the proposal," said Grundahl.

He said a more collaborative effort would make the proposal stronger and allow it to serve many functions and cover as many groups and factors as possible.

Wallace, whose group, the SFPA, represents Southern pine manufacturers from Virginia to Texas, said members of his association want the SPIB to complete the "full matrix" of testing and make any potential changes to design values in one proposal.

"We want all the changes made now, not some now and more later," Wallace said.

More species could come under scrutiny in the future as the ALSC approved a testing plan for Douglas Fir/Larch and Hem-Fir wood at its Oct. 20 meeting.