Forest Practices Habitat Conservation Plan
   

Salmon and clean water symbolize not only the Pacific Northwest, but also the vitality and diversity of our nation. Protection of these public resources benefits the citizens of Washington State, and helps ensure future generations will have the opportunity to experience them. In 2006, the Forest Practices Habitat Conservation Plan (FPHCP) was adopted to help support these goals.
 
The mid-1990s Endangered Species Act (ESA) listings of several salmonid species as threatened or endangered, and the identification of many water bodies that do not meet Clean Water Act (CWA) water quality standards prompted Washington State to act to protect salmon and other aquatic- and riparian-dependent species and water quality of streams on non-federal, non-tribal forestlands.
 
Representatives of six forest stakeholder groups (state agencies, tribes, forest landowners, conservationists, counties and federal agencies) convened to negotiate protective measures and associated administrative processes for non-federal, non-tribal forestlands with the goals to:
  • provide compliance with the ESA for aquatic and riparian dependent species;
  • restore and maintain riparian habitat to support a harvestable supply of fish;
  • meet the requirements of the CWA for water quality, and;
  • keep the timber industry economically viable in the state of Washington.
The stakeholders documented the scientifically based protective measures and administrative processes they agreed upon in the 1999 Forests and Fish Report. The Legislature approved of this approach later that year. See RCW 77.85.180. In 2001, the Washington State Forest Practices Board (Board) adopted the Forests and Fish Report’s habitat protection and administrative measures into forest practices rules (called the Forests and Fish Rules). The State then developed and produced the Forest Practices Habitat Conservation Plan (FPHCP) following Section 10 of the ESA. The FPHCP is a programmatic HCP because it is based on the Washington Forest Practices Program (forest practices rules, law and administrative framework). Washington implements the FPHCP by operating its Forest Practices Program.
 
The State submitted the FPHCP to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) (together called the Services). In 2006, the NMFS and USFWS issued 50-year Incidental Take Permits (ITPs) to Washington State. In doing so, the services provided assurances to the state that the full implementation of the forest practices program would satisfy the requirements of the ESA. The ITPs provide relief to the state and forest landowners from any claim that forest practices conducted in accordance with the agreed upon prescriptions in the FPHCP and ITPs would constitute an impermissible “take” of a covered species. At that time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had already provided CWA  Assurances to Washington State based on the protection measures promised in the 
Forests and Fish Report. The permits and CWA assurances give private forest landowners more certainty and predictability concerning regulations over time while securing consistent environmental protection and sustainable benefits.
 
Covered Lands:
The FPHCP covers approximately 9.3 million acres of non-federal, non-tribal forestland in Washington, of which 6.1 million acres are located west of the crest of the Cascade Range, and the remaining 3.2 million acres are located in eastern Washington. Ownership patterns range from individuals and families who own small forest parcels to large holdings owned and/or managed by private corporations and public agencies. Covered lands are forestlands within the state of Washington that are subject to the Washington Forest Practices Act, chapter 76.09 RCW.
 
Covered Species:
The FPHCP covers several salmonid and other aquatic and riparian dependent species. See FPHCP pages 23-28 for a list of covered species.
The FPHCP does not cover upland species, such as the marbled murrelet or the northern spotted owl. See FPHCP pages 29-34 for a description of some specific species that are not covered.
 
Covered Activities:
Covered activities are forest practices activities occurring on covered lands. Examples include road and skid trail construction, road maintenance and abandonment, timber harvesting, pre-commercial thinning, tree planting, salvage of trees and brush control. In addition, adaptive management research and monitoring activities—some of which include experimental treatments—are covered by the FPHCP.
 
The FPHCP does not cover forest chemical applications (that is herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers), some forest practices applications associated with 20-acre exempt parcels, equipment crossings/fords on Type S and F waters or site-specific mitigation for non-road-related forest practices hydraulic permits (such as placement of large woody debris in streams associated with a Forest Practices Application).
 
The State of Washington reports annually on the implementation of the HCP.

Forest Practices Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) Annual Reports

 

Forest Practices Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) Sections

 

 

Forest Practices Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) - Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)

 

 

Forest Practices Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) - Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS)

 

 

Forest Practices Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP)- Additional Supporting Documents

 
USFWS Biological Opinion (USFWS BO)
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