Task 3.4.1: Forest practices in shoreline jurisdiction
Are shoreline permits required for forest practices?
A forest practice consisting of timber cutting only is not
considered development under the Shoreline Management Act (SMA)
and does not require a shoreline Substantial Development Permit.
Forest practices such as building roads, trails and bridges and
placing culverts are considered development under the SMA and
are regulated under local Shoreline Master Programs as well as
the Forest Practices Act (RCW 76.09). The SMA does not exempt
these forest practices from the requirement for a Substantial
Development Permit (SDP). If the costs of these activities will
exceed the substantial development dollar threshold (currently
$6,416), an SDP will be required.
What other shoreline requirements apply to forest practices?
Shoreline Master Program standards, including buffers and
setbacks, will apply to forest practices that are considered
development, as discussed above. These forest practices are not
exempt from local master program standards.
Along shorelines of statewide significance, SMA (RCW 90.58.150)
requirements regarding selective timber cutting continue to
apply to forest practices. “The department or local government
shall allow only selective commercial timber cutting, so that no
more than thirty percent of the merchantable trees may be
harvested in any ten year period of time.” Enforcing this
requirement is up to local governments and Ecology.
The SMA provides for other timber harvesting methods “in those
limited instances where the topography, soil conditions or
silviculture practices necessary for regeneration render
selective logging ecologically detrimental.” Clear cutting
timber for land clearing purposes to prepare the land for other
uses may be permitted. In this case, the SMA and local SMP may
Does the Forest Practices Act apply in shoreline
The SMP Guidelines state that master programs should rely on
the Forest Practices Act, its implementing rules and Forest and
Fish Reports to manage commercial forests. SMPs also should
apply the Guidelines standards to forest practices where forest
land is being converted to non-forest uses.
As part of a forest practices application with the Department of
Natural Resources (DNR), applicants must report if the project
is within 200 feet of the ordinary high water mark or floodway
of a Type S water and whether it requires an SDP. Required SDPs
should be included with the application.
Local governments should review these applications and send a
comment to DNR if the applicant has not provided a required SDP
or is not complying with conditions of the SDP. DNR would either
disapprove the forest practices application or ask the applicant
to withdraw the application and resubmit it with the SDP issued
by the local government.
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