Forest Practices Board takes important steps to protect clean water and public safety
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Forest Practices Board takes important steps to protect clean water and public safety 
 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 10,  2011

Forest Practices Board takes important steps to protect clean water and public safety
Board also gets DNR update on timber harvest compliance action plan

OLYMPIA – The state’s Forest Practices Board approved a rule today aimed at improving protections for water quality and public safety in several watersheds where timber harvesting and other forest practices occur.

“Today the board took positive steps as a result of the lessons learned from the extraordinary rain event in the Chehalis River basin in 2007,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “This gives more substance to DNR’s monitoring and enforcement of watershed protections and its recommendations for additional steps to protect public safety, property and clean water.”

The new rule approved today confirms that DNR will periodically review watershed analyses and, if necessary, require landowners to update their analysis to ensure that its unstable slope prescriptions remain current. In the past, the department has not required consistent review of most of the 52 approved watershed analyses in the state, allowing dated forest practice prescriptions to continue to be applied. The board action eliminates this gap in current protections. Landowners who decline to update their watershed analysis, when DNR determines it is necessary, could see their watershed analysis withdrawn and would be required to comply with current forest practices rules.

DNR update on timber harvest compliance
At the meeting, DNR staff briefed board members on efforts to help landowners more accurately classify streams on their property when filing forest practices applications. The action plan will help the agency and industry achieve full compliance with the forest practices rules. A compliance monitoring report ordered by the board and released in January 2011 found that a sampling of forest practices applications approved in 2008 and 2009 contained inaccurate measurements of stream length. After reviewing hundreds of applications and visiting timber harvest sites:

  • One third of streams labeled as non-fish bearing were inconsistently categorized and may indeed be home to fish; errors reduced protected habitat for fish. 
  • Thirty-eight percent of activities near streams and wetlands on parcels of fewer than 20 acres were out of compliance with forest practices rules.

DNR will step up the guidance it provides to foresters and landowners for measuring the length of streams, which can affect which trees must be excluded from a harvest. The action plan calls for increased training for landowners and agency staff to help ensure that complete and accurate applications are submitted. The ability to increase training is highly dependent on funding levels.

Forest Practices Board
The Forest Practices Board was established by the 1974 Forest Practices Act. Its job is to adopt rules that set standards for forest practices such as timber harvests, pre-commercial thinning, road construction, and forest chemical applications. The rules protect public resources such as water quality and fish habitat while maintaining a viable timber industry. The Commissioner of Public Lands chairs the Forest Practices Board.

The 1999 Legislature revised the Forest Practices Act to adopt the Forest and Fish Report and establish a compliance monitoring program.

Media Contact: Bryan Flint, Director of Communications and Outreach, 360-902-1023, bryan.flint@dnr.wa.gov  

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