Leading up to the historic Forest Practices Habitat Conservation Plan was the Forests and Fish Report. This document, issued in 1999, is the result of a collaboration of diverse stakeholders, including tribes, forest landowners, local governments, environmental groups, and other interests. These diverse stakeholders outlined several ways to protect water quality and aquatic and riparian-dependant species on non-Federal forestlands in Washington.
The Report identified four goals:
- Provide compliance with the federal Endangered Species Act for aquatic and riparian-dependant species on state and private forestlands
- Restore and maintain riparian habitat to support a harvestable supply of fish
- Meet the requirements of the Clean Water Act for water quality
- Keep the Washington timber industry economically viable
The Forests and Fish Law
Following the release of the Forests and Fish Report was passage and enactment of the state’s Salmon Recovery Act of 1999 (sometimes called the ‘Forests and Fish Law’). This act directed the adoption of the goals of the Forests and Fish Report into the State Forest Practices Rules. Those rules are guided by the state’s Forest Practices Board, which set standards for timber harvests, pre-commercial thinning, road construction, and other forest practices on millions of acres of public and private forestland.
The Forest Practices Habitat Conservation Plan
The Washington State Forest Practices Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) is a direct result of the Forests and Fish Report. The HCP was approved in 2006 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Service. Covering 60,000 miles of stream habitat across 9.3 million acres of private and state forestlands, this 50-year agreement protects the habitat of aquatic species, supports economically viable and healthy forests, and creates regulatory stability for landowners.