Forest Practice Rules Adopted in 2001

Road Maintenance and Abandonment Plans (RMAPs)


The Washington State Legislature passed HB2091 in 1999 that “strongly encouraged” the Forest Practices Board to follow the recommendations of the Forests and Fish Report to establish permanent rules. The lengthy Forests and Fish Report was negotiated through consensus of federal and state agencies, Governor’s Office, tribes, environmentalists, Washington Association of Counties (entered the process at a later date) and the timber industry.

Road Maintenance and Abandonment Plans for all state and private forest roads are one of the requirements of the new forest practices rules adopted by the Board in 2001.

Federal Assurances

HB 2091 states that compliance with the rules and implementation of the recommendations of the Forests and Fish Report was enacted into law on the assumption that federal requirements under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA) would be satisfied. Federal and state administrative actions are designed to lead to an Incidental Take Permit by June 30, 2003.[1]

Road Maintenance and Abandonment Plans (RMAPs)

The new RMAP rules state that all forest roads on state and private forest land must be improved and maintained to new standards within 15 years. Work must show even-flow progress throughout that time, but prioritized by “worst first,” to address “the most benefit to public resources early in the period.” (WAC 222-24-050 and WAC 222-24-051)

Small Forest Landowner: Landowners with less than 500 acres of forestland in a DNR region must submit a RMAP with the first forest practice application or notification and submit a RMAP for the remainder of their ownership within one year. Those who do not apply for a forest practice application must submit a RMAP before the end of 2005. DNR staff plans to send letters to small forest landowners in 2004 so RMAPS can be completed by 2005.[2]

Large Forest Landowner: Landowners with 500 acres or more of forestland in a DNR region must submit a RMAP that covers 20% of their roads or land base each year. RMAPS for the first 20% of their forestland became due on December 31, 2001. DNR letters to large forest landowners are currently being made that state the first year RMAPS are late and to contact DNR within 30 days.

Exception: RMAPS could become due at any time through the following exception listed at the end of the rule: “If a landowner is notified by the department that their road(s) has the potential to damage public resources, the landowner must, within 90 days, submit to the department for review and approval a plan or plans for those drainages or road systems within the area identified by the department.”

RMAPS must include:

  • Ownership maps (designating forest roads, orphan roads, planned and potential abandonment, all typed water, Type A and B wetlands adjacent to or crossed by roads, streams that parallel roads, inventory of condition).
  • Descriptions of first years work in detail, with work schedule to complete plan within 15 years.
  • Routine road maintenance practices.
  • Storm maintenance strategy (pre-storm planning, emergency maintenance and post storm recovery)
  • Inventory and assessment of orphaned roads’ risk to public resources or public safety for five year study of measures that may need to be taken to repair or abandon.
  • Landowner’s signature.

Road maintenance is required on forest roads to prevent potential or actual damage to “public resources.” The  work standards are described in the Forest Practices Board Manual, Section 3.

Reporting Requirements and Agency Review/Approval: Each year on the date the RMAP was submitted, landowners must report what work was done the previous year and submit “a detailed description” of work that will be done in the following year. Modifications to the work schedule must be included.

DNR will review the plan with the Department of Ecology, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, affected tribes and interested parties. DNR will then review the plan with the landowner to see if it is being implemented as approved. The plan will be approved or denied. If denied, DNR’s concerns must be addressed within 45-days of the plans submittal. The landowner must sign added plans.

Noncompliance: If a landowner is out of compliance with the work schedule and DNR determines that the work is “necessary to prevent potential or actual damage to public resources” DNR will issue an order to comply or a stop work order.

Continuing Obligations: (WAC 222-20-055) If land or timber rights are sold, the seller is required to notify the buyer of the existence and type of continuing forest land obligations under the Forest Practices Act and rules. These obligations include reforestation, road maintenance and abandonment plans, and harvest policy. The seller must have the buyer sign a DNR form that states the buyer’s knowledge of the continuing requirements and send the signed form to DNR at the time of sale or transfer.

If the seller does not notify the buyer, the seller must pay the buyer’s costs for continuing the land requirements, including all legal costs and attorneys’ fees of the buyer for enforcement against the seller. The seller’s failure to send the notice will be prima facie evidence, in an action against the seller for costs of the continuing forest land obligation, that the buyer was not notified of the continuing obligation prior to sale.

Best Management Practices and Adaptive Management Process

Road Maintenance and Abandonment Plans must follow best management practices and adaptive management that may change the criteria and requirements for roads throughout the RMAP process.

Public Records

There is strong concern that RMAPS completed by forest landowners become public records and can be obtained by individuals or groups who would use the information to sue the landowner. Completed and signed RMAPS define potential or actual “problems” according to DNR criteria. Multiple agencies, tribes and environmental interests are involved in the review of RMAPS.

RMAP Work Priorities: Prioritized “worst first” work based on:

  • Roads that block fish passage.
  • Roads that carry sediment to typed waters
  • Roads with potential instability that could negatively affect public resources.
  • Roads or ditches that intercept ground water
  • Roads or ditches that transport water to any typed waters.

Priorities for work within plans are:

  • Removing fish passage blockages, on roads affecting most habitat first, usually from bottom of basin and working upstream
  • Preventing or limiting sediment delivery/mass wasting, bull trout habitat is the highest priority (bull trout overlays are used)
  • Correcting drainage or unstable sidecast where mass wasting “could deliver to public resources or threaten public safety
  • Preventing road drainage from typed waters
  • Repairing or maintaining stream parallel roads, emphasis on minimizing/eliminating water and sediment delivery
  • Minimizing the interruption of surface water drainage interception of subsurface water, and removing water from one basin to another/improving hydrologic connection
  • Repair/maintenance work that can be done with maximum operational efficiency.

Roads that are abandoned must be to DNR standards and blocked to deny access to 4-wheel vehicles.


Information listed below may be found at:

Reference Sources:              ESHB 2091, WSR 01-12-042 – Permanent Rule

Documents:                  Forests and Fish Report (required by ESHB 2091)

Links:                           DNR, Washington Forest Protection Association

Darlene Hajny, Okanogan County Farm Bureau

Phone: (509) 422-4703

Fax: (509 422-5904


March 16, 2002


"Forest land" means all land which is capable of supporting a merchantable stand of timber and is not being actively used for a use which is incompatible with timber growing. (WAC 222-16-010)

“Forest practice” is defined as any activity conducted on or directly pertaining to forest land and relating to growing, harvesting, or processing timber, including but not limited to: Road and trail construction; Harvesting, final and intermediate; Precommercial thinning; Reforestation; Fertilization; Prevention and suppression of diseases and insects; Salvage of trees; and Brush control. (WAC 222-16-010)

"Forest road" means ways, lanes, roads, or driveways on forest land used since 1974 for forest practices or forest management activities such as fire control. (WAC 222-16-010)

“Merchantable stand of timber” means a stand of trees that will yield logs and or fiber: Suitable in size and quality for the production of lumber, plywood, pulp or other forest products; Of sufficient value at least to cover all the costs of harvest and transportation to available markets.” (WAC 222-16-010

“Orphan road” is a road or railroad grade that the forest landowner has not used for forest practices activities since 1974. (RMAP Guidance Form, DNR)

“Public resources” means water, fish, and wildlife and in addition shall mean capital improvements of the state or its political subdivisions. (WAC 222-16-010)

“Road abandonment” means all activities that result in the stabilization of roads to a more natural state of self-maintenance. A road is considered to be abandoned once the department has determined that the following conditions have been met.

(a)    Roads are outsloped, water barred, or otherwise left in a condition suitable to control erosion     and maintain water movement within wetlands and natural drainages.

(b)    Ditches are left in a suitable condition to reduce erosion.

(c)    The road is blocked so that four-wheel highway vehicles cannot pass the point of closure at the time of abandonment.

(d)    Water crossing structures and fills on all typed waters are removed, except where the department determines other measures would provide adequate protection to public resources. (RMAP Guidance Form, DNR)

“Typed water” means seasonal and year-round flowing streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, nonforested wetlands, or bodies of salt water. (RMAP Guidance Form, DNR) 

[1] The federal government has asked for time extension from June 30, 2003 to June 30, 2005 to issue the assured Incidental Take Permit (Washington State HB 2570, 2002) 

[2] Personal Communication with Randy Nelson, DNR Colville Office

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