New monitoring report samples compliance with state forest practices rules

Measuring streams
Correct measurement of streams at their ‘bank full’, or full capacity, widths allows the forest landowner or operator to designate which trees will be exempt from harvesting. Photo: DNR.

Private forestland owners in Washington State are making improvements in some aspects of compliance with state’s forest practices rules that protect fresh water and wetlands, a DNR report finds. The ‘Forest Practices Compliance Monitoring Report, 2010-2011’ summarizes field inspection results from a statewide sampling of projects with approved Forest Practices Applications. The sampling looked at the rate of compliance with state rules for building logging roads and harvesting timber near streams.

The report found that landowners overall were in compliance with required forest practices applications most of the time. Most of the instances of non-compliance with the state rules were rated as ‘minor’ in severity. Road haul route activities were assessed at 96 percent compliant. See the full report for an explanation of the sampling and field protocols used and other information.

The sample found that large industrial forest owners usually had better compliance rates than small forest land owners, an outcome that could be due to the complexity of some forest practices rules. The state’s forest practices rules designate no-harvest (see Tables 5 and 6 in the report) and limited harvest zones of varying widths along streams and waterways.

Failing to making correct measurements was often the cause of a landowner’s or timber harvest operator’s noncompliance with the state rules. For example, failing to correctly measure the width of a stream at its ‘bank full’, or full capacity, distances could lead the landowner or operator to designate too few or too many trees as exempt from harvesting.

In response, DNR has initiated a multi-year education and outreach program to improve the department’s assistance to landowners and operators of timber harvests.

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