Washington Forest Practices Permit (3-WA-g)
A developer likely needs to obtain a Permit if the project activity:
- Takes place on a parcel greater than 2 acres in size; or
- Is within 200-foot of a shoreline area; or
- Is within a stream or stream buffer; or
- Is within a wetland or wetland buffer; or
- Involves the use of ground equipment on side-slopes greater than 40 percent; or
- Impacts any threatened or endangered species; or
- Involves cutting 5,000 board feet or more of merchantable timber in any consecutive 12-month period.
For a complete list of project activities that would require a Permit or notification to the WDNR please refer to W.A.C § 222-16-050.WDNR regulates forest practices on private and state forest land. A Permit is not required for every forest practice, but the developer must follow the forest practice rules when conducting all forest practice activities. Washington Governor’s Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance – Forest Practices Permit Webpage. WDNR regulates forest practices pursuant to Washington – Wash. Admin. Code §§ 222 et seq., Forest Practices Board and Washington – Rev. Code Wash. §§ 76.09 et seq., Forest Practices Act.
Forest Practices Permit Process
3-WA-g.1 to 3-WA-g.2 – Is the Proposed Activity a Class I Forest Practice?
Class I forest practices are those “operations that have been determined to have no direct potential for damaging a public resource.” Class I forest practices do not require notification or a Forest Practices Permit. W.A.C § 222-16-050(3). A Class I forest practice includes, but is not limited to:
- “Road maintenance except:
- replacement of bridges and culverts across Type S, F or flowing Type Np Waters; or
- movement of material that has a direct potential for entering Type S, F, or flowing Type Np Waters; or
- Type A or B wetlands.
- Construction of landings less than one acre in size, if not within a shoreline area of a Type S Water, the riparian management zone of a Type F Water, the bankfull width of a Type Np Water, a wetland management zone, a wetland, or the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (“CRGNSA”) special management area;
- Construction of less than 600 feet of road on a sideslope of forty percent or less if the limits of construction are not within the shoreline of a Type S Water, the riparian management zone of a Type F Water, the bankfull of a Type Np Water, a wetland management zone, a wetland, or the CRGNSA special management area;
- Initial installation and replacement of relief culverts and other drainage control facilities not requiring an Application; or
- Cutting and/or removal of less than 5,000 board feet of timber for personal use in any twelve-month period, if not within the CRGNSA special management area.”
For a full list of forest practices that do not require notification or a Permit, see: W.A.C § 222-16-050(3).
3-WA-g.3 – Forest Practices Application/Notification Forms
A developer must submit Washington Department of Natural Resources - Forest Practices Application/Notification Forms (Application) to the applicable regional Washington Department of Natural Resources (“WDNR”) office for Class II, III or IV forest practices (herein Application refers to Applications for Permit and Notification). WDNR must receive notification for Class II forest practices and approve an Application for Class III or IV forest practices pursuant to W.A.C § 222-20-010(1). Most hydropower projects fall under the general Class VI forest practices designation.
Class II forest practices include, but are not limited to:
- “Construction of 500 or more feet of road, provided that WDNR is notified at least 2 business days before construction, as long as the construction does not take place within:
- a riparian management zone of a Type F Water,
- the bankfull width of a Type Np Water;
- a wetland management zone, within a wetland; or
- the CRGNSA special management area; and
- if none of the operations involve off-road use of tractor or wheeled skidding systems on a sideslope of greater than forty percent; and
- if none of the operations are located on lands with a likelihood of future conversion pursuant to W.A.C § 222-16-060.
- Forest practices described in W.A.C § 222-16-050(4)(a)-(e) within urban growth areas, and where the regulatory authority for forest practices has been transferred to the local government entity pursuant to R.C.W §76.09.240(1) that are:
- located on a landowner’s property of contiguous forest land equal to or greater than twenty acres; and
- the land owner provides documentation described in W.A.C § 222-16-050(4)(f)(i)-(ii).”
Note: A review statement from the U.S. Forest Service that evaluates compliance of the forest practices with the CRGNSA special management area guidelines is necessary information for an application or notification within the CRGNSA special management area. The review statement requirement is waived if the applicant can demonstrate the U.S. Forest Service received a complete Application and failed to act within forty-five days. W.A.C. § 222-20-010(8)(a).
Class III forest practices include, but are not limited to:
- “Forest practices hydraulic projects except where classified as Class I, II, and IV forest practices;
- Those within the shorelines of the state other than those in a Class I forest practice;
- All road construction except as listed in Classes I, II, and IV forest practices;
- Road maintenance involving:
- replacement of bridges or culverts across Type S, F, or flowing Type Np Waters; or
- Movement of material that has a direct potential for entering Type S, F or flowing Type Np Waters or Type A or B Wetlands.
- Harvesting, road construction, site preparation…on lands which contain cultural, historic or archaeological resources which, at the time the Application or Notification is filed, have been identified to WDNR as being of interest to an affected Indian tribe; and
- Forest practices involving timber harvest or road construction listed in W.A.C § 222-16-050(5)(a)-(p) within urban growth areas designated pursuant to R.C.W. §36.70A, if the landowner provides documentation described in W.A.C § 222-16-050(4)(f)(i)-(ii).”
Class IV forest practices include, but are not limited to:
- “Harvesting, road construction…and site preparation on all lands within the boundaries of any national park, state park, or any park of a local governmental entity, except harvest of less than five thousand board feet within any developed park recreation area and park managed salvage of merchantable forest products; and
- Timber harvest, or construction of roads, landings…on potentially unstable slopes or landforms described in W.A.C § 222-16-050(1)(d)(i) that has the potential to deliver sediment or debris to a public resource or that has the potential to threaten public safety, and which has been field verified by WDNR (see W.A.C § 222-10-030 SEPA policies for potentially unstable slopes and landforms).
Class IV forest practices also require an environmental checklist in compliance with the Washington State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), and SEPA guidelines, as they have been determined to have potential for a substantial impact on the environment. W.A.C § 222-16-050(1). For more information regarding SEPA, see:
For a full list of Class II, III, and IV forest practices, see: W.A.C § 222-16-050(1)-(5).
Note: Applications that include forest practices hydraulic projects must also comply with W.A.C § 222-20-017, which includes review for consistency with fish protection standards and a pre-application consultation.
3-WA-g.4 to 3-WA-g.5 – Review Application Materials for Completeness
WDNR reviews the Application for administrative and technical completeness. Washington Governor’s Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance – Forest Practices Permit Webpage. The region WDNR office scans complete Applications on the WDNR’s Forest Practices Review system and Applications are posted on the internet and available to registered reviewers. Reviewers include the Washington Department of Ecology, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the county/city/town, and affected Indian Tribes. Washington Governor’s Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance – Forest Practices Permit Webpage.
If the Application is complete WDNR considers the Application officially received on the date and time shown on any registered or certified mail receipt, or the written receipt given at the time of personal delivery, or at the time of receipt by general mail delivery. WDNR provides a dated receipt to the applicant (developer). W.A.C. § 222-20-010(8).
WDNR does not consider Applications that are not complete, or are inaccurate as officially received until the applicant (developer) furnishes the necessary information to complete the Application. W.A.C. § 222-20-010(8).
3-WA-g.6 – Publish Notice of Application or Notification
WDNR must submit copies of all Applications and Notifications to all incorporated cities and towns of forest practices on lands within the legal boundaries of the city or town. W.A.C. § 222-20-110.
WDNR must also notify affected Indian tribes of all Applications in geographic areas of interest that have been identified by such tribes, including those areas that may contain cultural resources. W.A.C. § 222-20-120(1).
3-WA-g.7 to 3-WA-g.8 – Does WDNR Approve the Application?
WDNR usually approves, conditions, or disapproves Class III and Class IV forest practice Applications within thirty (30) days of the Application’s official receipt. W.A.C. § 222-20-020(1).
WDNR approves, conditions, or disapproves Applications requiring a concurrence review of forest practices hydraulic projects listed in W.A.C. § 222-20-017(4)(b) within sixty (60) days of WDNR officially receiving a complete Application. W.A.C. § 222-20-020(1)(e).
Other Application variations have differing approval timelines, for more information see: W.A.C. § 222-20-020(1).
If WDNR fails to approve or disapprove an Application or any portion thereof within the applicable time limit, the Application is deemed approved and the operation may commence except where:
- The local governmental entity objects and the application involves lands that are being converted to a use other than commercial timber operations where the local governmental entity's right of objection is fourteen (14) business days which may be longer than the approval time limit;
- WDNR is prohibited from approving the Application by the Washington – Rev. Code Wash. §§ 76.09 et seq., Forest Practices Act; and
- Compliance with the State Environmental Policy Act requires additional time.
Whenever an approved Application authorizes a forest practices activity which, because of soil condition, proximity to a water course or other unusual factor, has a potential for causing material damage to a public resource, as determined by WDNR, the applicant (developer) must send notice to WDNR two (2) business days before the commencement of actual operations. W.A.C. § 222-20-040(1). The applicant must submit notice only if required as a condition on the approved Application.
All approvals are subject to any conditions stipulated on the approved Application and to any subsequent additional requirements set forth in a stop work order or a notice to comply. W.A.C. § 222-20-040(2).
Note: Local government entities may place conditions on Class IV general applications pursuant to W.A.C. § 222-20-040(3).
The approval given by WDNR to an Application to conduct a forest practice is effective for a term of three years from the date of approval with the following exceptions:
- Multiyear permits are effective for four or five years;
- Small forest landowner long-term applications are effective for terms of four to fifteen years.
A notification is effective for a term of three years beginning five days from the date it is officially received. W.A.C. § 222-20-080(2).
An Application or notification may be renewed for one additional three-year term by submitting a renewal in a form acceptable to WNDR. W.A.C. § 222-20-080(3).
3-WA-g.9 – Appeal Decision (If Applicable)
Any interested party may appeal WNDR’s decision to the Washington Pollution Control Hearings Board within thirty (30) days of the approval or denial of the Application. Washington Governor’s Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance – Forest Practices Permit Webpage; Washington – Wash. Rev. Code §§ 43 et seq., State Government-Executive; W.A.C. § 371-08.
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- Washington State Environmental Policy Act
- Washington – Wash. Admin. Code §§ 222 et seq., Forest Practices Board
- Washington – Wash. Admin. Code §§ 371 et seq., Environmental and Land Use Hearings Office
- Washington – Rev. Code Wash. §§ 36 et seq., Counties
- Washington – Wash. Rev. Code §§ 43 et seq., State Government-Executive
- Washington – Rev. Code Wash. §§ 76.09 et seq., Forest Practices Act
- Washington Department of Natural Resources – Forest Practices Illustrated Guide to Forest Practices Rules
- Washington Department of Planning and Land Service – 3 Steps to Determine If Forest Practices Permit Is Required
- Washington Governor’s Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance – Forest Practices Permit Webpage
- Washington Department of Natural Resources - Forest Practices Application/Notification Forms
- Washington Pollution Control Hearings Board