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FOREST LANDOWNER INCENTIVE BILL PASSES LEGISLATURE; MEASURE IS ONE ELEMENT OF COMPREHENSIVE STATEWIDE FORESTRY REFORM EFFORT

FOREST LANDOWNER INCENTIVE BILL PASSES LEGISLATURE; MEASURE IS ONE
 ELEMENT OF COMPREHENSIVE STATEWIDE FORESTRY REFORM EFFORT
 OLYMPIA, Wash., March 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released today by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources:
 Commissioner of Public Lands Brian Boyle is urging Gov. Gardner to sign into law a measure that encourages forest landowners in Washington to keep their land in forestry. Substitute House Bill 2330 creates a series of incentives to encourage forest landowners to retain their land in productive forestry in the face of strong pressure to convert it to other uses.
 The Forest Landowner Incentives bill originated from the Sustainable Forestry Roundtable (SFR), a 40-member group organized by Boyle in 1989 to tackle some of the most divisive natural resource issues in Washington state. SFR included large and small landowners, representatives from the environmental community, Native American tribes, state agencies and counties. SFR sought to create a balance between incentives to maintain land in forestry and regulation to protect public resources.
 "Every year Washington state loses thousands of acres of forest land. It's paved over, developed and lost forever," said Boyle. "If this bill is signed into law, it will ease some of the burden placed on landowners -- especially the more than 40,000 small forest landowners in the state."
 Boyle pointed out that over the last 40 years, one million acres of forest land in Washington have been converted to housing developments, shopping malls and a host of other urban and suburban uses.
 The legislation does the following:
 -- Establishes a "Right to Practice Forestry" by expanding protection from nuisance lawsuits to include forest practices. Currently, only agricultural practices are exempt from nuisance lawsuits;
 -- Creates incentives to retain standing snags in upland areas and downed woody debris in streams for wildlife and fisheries;
 -- Exempts certain forest lands that would not benefit from special assessments of local improvement districts;
 -- Allows applications for multiple forest practices, and allows two-year terms for forest practices permits. Currently, permits have one-year terms;
 -- Creates opportunities for more efficient work by the Forest Practices Appeals Board by encouraging mediation.
 The Forest Landowner Incentives measure passed the state House with 93 "yes" votes and passed the Senate unanimously.
 "It took two years, but the critical elements of the Sustainable Forestry Roundtable package are finally within our reach," Boyle said. "The legislation, combined with the Forest Practices Board's comprehensive regulatory changes, could mean that we will have a sweeping forestry reform package in place by this summer. It will show that we can protect our environment and maintain a viable forest products industry."
 Passage of the Forest Landowner Incentive bill coincides with the efforts of the Forest Practices Board, which is aggressively working toward adoption of other SFR components. The board's proposals include the following:
 -- A forested wetlands protection measure;
 -- A rule to reduce logging's cumulative effects on the
 environment;
 -- Clearcut size regulations and restrictions on the timing of
 adjacent clearcuts;
 -- A rule to retain trees for wildlife, and a proposal for
 critical wildlife habitat;
 -- Expansion of the list of forest practices that require State
 Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review;
 -- A rule on stream temperature and the use of forest chemicals.
 The Forest Practices Board meets Friday, March 13, to finalize its comprehensive package of sustainable forestry proposals for a series of public hearings in April. The board expects to adopt new rules on these forestry reform issues in June.
 -0- 3/12/92
 /CONTACT: Sandi Snell of Washington State Department of Natural Resources, 206-753-5330/ CO: Washington State Department of Natural Resources ST: Washington IN: PAP SU:


JH-LM -- SE012 -- 7601 03/12/92 17:58 EST
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Date:Mar 12, 1992
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