Forest Practices Water Typing

Water typing is a Washington State 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 submitting 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 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 Water Type Modification Form is not submitted, the water type maps will not be updated. Water Type Modification forms 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 Water Type Modification Form 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. 
Type Description
Type"S"= Shoreline
Streams and waterbodies that are designated “shorelines of the state” as defined in chapter 90.58.030 RCW.
(formerly type 1)
Type "F" = Fish
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.
(formerly type 2 or 3)
Type"Np"= Non-Fish 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 13.
(formerly type 4)
Type"Ns"= Non-Fish Seasonal
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.
(formerly type 5)
Type X is a symbol on DNR maps that identifies various water features (for example: irrigation ditches, sanitation ponds, pipeline, etc.) which are not part of the above classifications.
Type U is a symbol on DNR maps that identifies unknown water features that need to be verified and identified on proposed forest practices activity maps.

Available Resources

DNR Forest Practices Division 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 (for example: 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 (Appendix A) is found on the FPA/N Forms and Instructions page 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 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.

Updating Water Type Information on DNR Water Type Maps

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  to their local DNR Region Office. Please read the Water Type Modification Form 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 otherwiseForest Practices Board Manual Section 13  provides water typing protocol surveys that may be used to determine fish use.

Water Type Modification on Non-Forest Land

In the State of Washington, non-forested lands generally include areas converted to a residential or commercial use, lands used for agricultural purposes, low-density neighborhoods, and the urban interface lacking managed forests. Non-forested lands are all lands in the State of Washington that do not meet the following definition of “forest land” (WAC 222-16-010)
Landowners seeking revisions to DNR’s Water Type Map should first consult their respective local government regarding the proposed change. If further assistance is needed, they may also request a review of the proposed change by a representative of either the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) or the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology). DNR can assist with contacting the appropriate WDFW or Ecology agency representative.  

Water Type Review Team

The water type review team consists of representatives from the tribes, Washington Department of Ecology (ECY), Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and DNR. They review Water Type Modification forms 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 water type modification form proposal.
Landowners are encouraged to meet with the water type review before submitting large batches of water type modification forms, when there are potential issues associated with the proposal or difficulty in assessing the physical criteria for water type classifications (see the Water Type Modification Form Review Process 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.