Forest Practices Water Typing
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Forest Practices Water Typing 
Forest Practices 

Forest Practices Water Typing

Water typing is a Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) classification system of streams and other water bodies that identifies whether or not streams/water bodies are used by fish, and whether or not streams experience perennial or seasonal flow. Water types are used by the Forest Practices program to determine the amount and pattern of riparian buffer protection required during forest practices activities.   

Forest landowners are required to determine, in the field, the type of any regulated waters as identified in the forest practices rules within proposed harvest boundaries, including the area within 200 feet of the proposal prior to submittal of a forest practices application/notification. In addition field verified stream typing is required prior to placement or replacement of stream crossing structures for road construction or road maintenance.

Landowners are encouraged to submit a Water Type Modification Form (WTMF) to DNR in order to make permanent changes to water type maps. This is the only means of updating DNR’s hydro-layer and water type maps. If a WTMF is not submitted, the water type maps will not be updated. WTMFs can be submitted with a forest practices application/notification (FPA/N) or as stand-alone documents. Check with your local DNR Region office to determine if a WTMF has already been submitted and approved for your stream(s).

Water Type Classifications
The following table provides a general description of forest practices water type classifications currently in use.

Water TypeDescription
Type "S" = Shoreline
(formerly type 1)
Streams and waterbodies that are designated “shorelines of the state” as defined in chapter 90.58.030 RCW.

Type "F" = Fish

(formerly type 2 or 3)

Streams and waterbodies that are known to be used by fish, or meet the physical criteria to be potentially used by fish. Fish streams may or may not have flowing water all year; they may be perennial or seasonal.
Type "Np" = Non-Fish Perennial
(formerly type 4)
Streams that have flow year round and may have spatially intermittent dry reaches downstream of perennial flow. Type Np streams do not meet the physical criteria of a Type F stream. This also includes streams that have been proven not to contain fish using methods described in Forest Practices Board Manual Section 1Forest Practices Board Manual Section 13.
Type "Ns" = Non-Fish Seasonal
(formerly type 5)
Streams that do not have surface flow during at least some portion of the year, and do not meet the physical criteria of a Type F stream.

Type X is a symbol on DNR maps that identifies various water features (E.g. irrigation ditches, sanitation ponds, pipeline, etc.) which are not part of the above classifications.
Type U is a symbol on DNR maps that identifies untyped water features that need to be verified and identified on proposed forest practices activity maps.

Available Resources

DNR Forest Practices maintains and updates the DNR Water Type Maps that show both field-verified and non field-verified streams. You can check the Water Types in your area of interest on the Forest Practices Application and Review System (FPARS) mapping website. These maps are provided as a starting point to help landowners identify and type streams, lakes and ponds on their property. However, it is the landowner’s responsibility to correctly identify and type all waters associated with their proposal. Waters shown on the maps are a “best approximation” and must be field verified by the landowner prior to submitting a forest practices application.

Forest Practices Application/Notification

Before submitting a Forest Practices Application/Notification (FPA/N), landowners are required to correctly identify and classify all streams, wetlands, lakes and ponds, and describe how the verification was implemented in the field for all waters within the proposed activity area and within 200 feet of the proposed activity. To do this, the landowner may use the Water Type Classification Worksheet or provide a written and accurate explanation (i.e. bankfull width, stream slope gradient, etc.) of the basis for concluding which water types are present in the area of interest. The Water Type Classification Worksheet  is found in the FPA/N instructions (Western WA, Eastern WA) and provides an effective system for explaining the basis for water type determinations. In addition, Forest Practices Board Manual Section 13 contains guidelines for determining fish use for the purposes of water typing, and Forest Practices Board Manual Section 2 contains standard methods for identifying bankfull channel features. 

An activity map is submitted with the FPA/N. These maps can be printed using the FPARS mapping website, or you can request one from your DNR Region Office. Compare the water types and locations shown on the map with all streams, lakes and ponds on your property. Make corrections on the activity map and submit it with the FPA/N. Refer to the FPA/N instructions (Western WA, Eastern WA) for Water Typing Requirements. This process does not result in changes to the DNR Water Type Map, but is necessary for the FPA/N to be considered a complete application.


In order to record updates, corrections, or to verify the water types and/or locations shown on the DNR Water Type Map, landowners or other proponents may submit a Water Type Modification Form (WTMF) to their local DNR Region Office. Please read the WTMF instructions. Landowners and other interested parties are encouraged to submit these forms, as it is the only way that water type corrections and location updates become permanently recorded on the DNR Water Type Map. Water type and water location change proposals are continually accepted by DNR.

Water type update proposals must follow the definitions found in WAC 222-16-031. Waters meeting the physical characteristics for Type F streams described in this rule are presumed to have fish use unless a protocol survey or ID Team has verified otherwise. Forest Practices Board Manual Section 13 provides water typing protocol surveys that may be used to determine fish use.

Water Type Review Team
The Water Type Review (WTR) Team consists of representatives from the tribes, Washington Department of Ecology (ECY), Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and the DNR. They review water type modification forms (WTMFs) in their area of responsibility. The role of the tribes, ECY, and WDFW is to provide input and expertise to DNR. DNR uses this information when making a final decision on whether to approve or disapprove a WTMF proposal. Landowners are encouraged to meet with the WTR Team prior to submittal of large batches of WTMFs or when there are potential issues associated with the proposal or difficulty in assessing the physical criteria for water type classifications (see Water Type Review Recommendations for more information).  If a proposed change is approved by DNR, the map information is updated and is reflected on the Water Type Map, and made available through the FPARS mapping website.

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Forest Practices
1111 Washington St. SE, PO Box 47012
Olympia, WA 98504-7012
Fax 360-902-1428