40.260.080 Forest Practices

A.    General Provisions.

1.    Purpose. This section is established pursuant to Chapter 76.09 RCW and Chapter 222-20 WAC. It shall be officially cited as Section 40.260.080, Forest Practices, and may be commonly referred to as the Clark County forest practice code. This section sets forth procedures and review criteria for approval of Class IV conversion forest practices, conversion option harvest plans (COHPs), and certain Class I forest practices, and establishes a process for implementing development moratoria on properties which have been harvested in violation of forest practice requirements.

2.    Description of Forest Practice Classes. The description of the classes of forest practice paraphrased below are intended to summarize the classifications and do not supersede the specific definitions described in Chapter 222-16 WAC and Chapter 76.09 RCW:

a.    Class I are those minor forest practices, occurring outside the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (CRGNSA) Special Management Area (SMA), that have no direct potential for damaging a public resource. Examples of Class I forest practices include timber harvests on parcels where contiguous ownership is less than two (2) acres in size that are not within a shoreline designation or UGA, and none of the operation takes place within the riparian management zone of a Type 2 or 3 Water, or within the bankfull width/channel migration zone of a Type 4 Water or flowing Type 5 Water; the culture and harvest of Christmas trees and seedlings; tree planting and seeding; and cutting and/or removal of less than five thousand (5,000) board feet of timber for personal use (e.g., firewood, fence post) in any consecutive twelve (12) month period.

b.    Class II are those forest practices which have less than an ordinary potential for damaging a public resource. Examples of Class II forest practices include the construction of advance fire trails; timber harvests of less than forty (40) acres; and the “partial cutting” of forty percent (40%) or less of the live timber volume on a site. Class II forest practices require notification to the DNR prior to being conducted. Property logged pursuant to a Class II permit must be reforested and is intended to remain in timber production. Class II shall not include forest practices:

(1)    On lands platted after January 1, 1960, as provided in Chapter 58.17 RCW or on lands that have or are being converted to another use;

(2)    Which require approvals under the provisions of the Hydraulics Act, RCW 75.20.100;

(3)    Within “shorelines of the state” as defined in RCW 90.58.030;

(4)    Excluded from Class II by the State Forestry Practices Board; or

(5)    Which involve timber harvesting or road construction within “urban growth areas,” designated pursuant to Chapter 36.70A RCW, which are processed as Class IV.

c.    Class III are those forest practices not listed under Class I, II, and IV. Class III forest practices require permit approval by the DNR. Property logged pursuant to a Class III permit must be reforested and is intended to remain in timber production.

d.    Class IV forest practices are divided into two (2) categories as follows:

(1)    Class IV general, as defined by WAC 222-16-050(2) in effect on March 20, 2000, are those forest practices occurring on lands within UGAs; lands platted after January 1, 1960, or on lands which are being converted to a use other than commercial timber production. Examples of Class IV general forest practices include harvest of timber and conversion of land to agricultural, residential or commercial uses, and forest practices which would otherwise be Class III, but which are taking place on lands which are not to be reforested because of the likelihood of future conversion to urban development. Reforestation is not required under a Class IV general forest practices permit as the property subject to the permit is being converted to a non-forestry use.

(2)    Class IV special, as defined by WAC 222-16-050(1) in effect on March 20, 2000, are those forest practices which have the potential to result in a substantial impact to the environment. Examples of Class IV special forest practices include forest practices conducted on lands designated as critical wildlife habitat for threatened or endangered wildlife species; timber harvest in national, state, or local parks; and forest practices involving potentially unstable slopes or landforms.

3.    Applicability. The provisions of this section comprise the standards necessary for the review of Class IV conversion forest practices, COHPs, and non-exempt Class I forest practices. The provisions of this chapter also provide the criteria for the establishment or removal of development moratoria and exceptions for single-family dwellings located on lands subject to a development moratorium. All forest practice approvals and associated development moratoria issued by Clark County shall comply with this section.

a.    The following forest practice activities are subject to review under this section:

(1)    All Class IV conversion forest practices;

(2)    A COHP in which a Class II, III, or IV special forest practice is applied for;

(3)    Class I forest practices within urban growth areas (UGAs) that involve timber harvesting or road construction;

(4)    Class I forest practices outside UGAs which are associated with lands platted after January 1, 1960, or lands being converted to a non-forestry use.

b.    Forest practices are exempt from this chapter on lands in a UGA where the landowner submits a ten (10) year statement of non-conversion to the Department of Natural Resources (reforestation agreement) together with either an acceptable ten (10) year forest management plan or proof that the land is currently enrolled in current use assessment – timber lands, under the provisions of Chapter 84.33 RCW.

    Class I Forest Practices Within UGAs. For those Class I forest practices not exempt from this section pursuant to Sections 40.260.080(A)(3)(a)(3) and (A)(3)(a)(4), a forest practice permit shall not be required if the forest practices result in the removal of less than five thousand (5,000) board feet of timber for either personal use or the abatement of an emergency (e.g., removal of diseased or hazard trees) in any twelve (12) month period. Although a forest practice permit is not required, Class I forest practices proposed within a wetland, stream, landslide hazard area, habitat conservation area, or other critical area or its buffer shall comply with all applicable requirements of Section 40.260.080(A)(5)(b)(1).

4.    Administration.

a.    Approvals Required. An approval pursuant to this chapter must be obtained from Clark County for the following:

(1)    Forest Practice Approvals.

(a)    Class IV General Forest Practices. An approved forest practices permit shall be obtained from Clark County prior to conducting any forest practices defined as Class IV general pursuant to Section 40.260.080(A)(2)(d).

(b)    Class IV Special Forest Practices. Class IV general forest practice which is reclassified to Class IV special and is a conversion, Clark County will be lead agent for SEPA action, and the Department of Natural Resources would act as lead on the approval of the FPA.

(c)    Class I Forest Practices. Class I forest practices not exempt from this chapter pursuant to Sections 40.260.080(A)(3)(a)(3) and (A)(3)(a)(4) shall require a forest practice permit from Clark County if the forest practice results in abatement of an emergency within a twelve (12) month period, the removal of any volume for commercial sale, or road building or removal of timber on lands platted after January 1, 1960. These forest practices shall be reviewed using the procedures set forth in Section 40.260.080(B), except that these forest practices shall not be subject to environmental review under Chapter 43.21C RCW (State Environmental Policy Act).

(d)    Conversion Option Harvest Plan. A COHP approval from Clark County shall be required for all Class II, III, and IV special non-conversion forest practices outside UGAs where the land owner desires to avoid the imposition of a six (6) year development moratorium.

(2)    Request for Removal of Development Moratorium. An approved request for removal of development moratorium shall be required prior to the approval of any development permits by Clark County for land which is subject to a development moratorium except for the construction of one (1) single-family residence, pursuant to Section 40.260.080(D).

(3)    Request for Single-Family Dwelling Waiver. An approved request for single-family dwelling waiver shall be required prior to the construction of a single-family residence or related improvements on land which is subject to a development moratorium.

b.    Application Requirements for Class IV General Permits.

(1)    Preliminary Review. The provisions for conducting a pre-application review of any Class IV-G application filed pursuant to this chapter are set forth in Subtitle 40.5. Pre-application review is voluntary for applications filed under this section.

(2)    Application Filing. Applications filed pursuant to this chapter shall be reviewed to determine full completeness in accordance with submittal standards herein and pursuant to Subtitle 40.5.

(3)    Application Site Plan. All pre-applications and applications shall include a site plan of the proposal that includes the following, if applicable:

(a)    Drafted at a scale no smaller than one (1) inch to two hundred (200) feet;

(b)    With the scale being shown in legend on the drawing;

(c)    Harvest boundaries and tree retention areas;

(d)    North arrow;

(e)    The approximate location of any existing structures;

(f)    The location of all existing and proposed streets, rights-of-way, easements, skid roads, haul roads, and landings within the proposal;

(g)    The location of future land development including stormwater management facilities, and vegetation to be retained for site landscaping, open space, wildlife habitat, screening, and/or buffers;

(h)    Site topography at a contour interval of twenty (20) feet, ten (10) feet if available from a public source;

(i)    Critical areas and critical area buffers;

(j)    Drainageways and culverts;

(k)    Site area targeted for further harvest including proposed timing; and

(l)    A vicinity map that includes all abutting ownership.

(4)    Field Marking of Site Features. At the time of submittal of any application required pursuant to this chapter, the following features shall be clearly marked at the site with flagging or colored paint by the applicant:

(a)    Critical areas and critical area buffers;

(b)    Centerline of all proposed roads;

(c)    Landing areas;

(d)    Tree retention areas and leave trees; and

(e)    Cutting boundaries.

c.    Review.

(1)    Initial Review. The department shall conduct an initial review of any application in accordance with the provisions outlined in Subtitle 40.5, Procedures.

(2)    Review Responsibilities.

(a)    The responsible official is responsible for administration, circulation, and review of an application filed for Class IV general permits, COHPs, and single-family dwelling waivers.

(b)    The hearing examiner shall be the decision authority for requests to remove a development moratorium and administrative appeals.

(c)    Other county departments and state agencies, as determined by the department, may review an application and forward their respective recommendations to the responsible official or examiner as appropriate.

5.    Standards.

a.    General. Forest practices subject to this chapter shall be subject to the standards of WAC Title 222 except as modified or supplemented by county critical area ordinances as specified below. In the event of inconsistency between applicable federal, state and local regulations, provisions which afford the greatest critical area protection shall apply.

b.    Specific. In addition to the general provisions of Section 40.260.080(A)(5)(a), the following critical area ordinance provisions apply depending upon the class of the forest practice:

(1)    Class IV-G Forest Practice.

(a)    Wetland regulations in Chapter 40.450;

(b)    Habitat regulations in Chapter 40.440;

(c)    Landslide hazard provisions in the geologic areas regulations in Chapter 40.430.

(2)    Conversion Option Harvest Plans.

(a)    The forested wetland provisions of the county wetland protection ordinance such that:

(i)    Harvest is prohibited within the forested wetland; and

(ii)    No forested wetland buffer applies, but reforestation may be required pursuant to Section 40.260.080(B)(3)(e).

(b)    Review of proposed post-harvest activities subject to Chapter 40.440, Habitat Conservation, shall assume pre-harvest conditions.

c.    Time Limitations.

(1)    Expiration of Approval.

(a)    A Class IV general permit shall be valid for two (2) consecutive years following the date of issuance unless a different time limit has been established through an associated development permit approval. Expiration of the Class IV general permit shall be the same as the expiration date of the approved development permit.

(b)    A COHP shall be valid for a period of ten (10) years from the date of county approval.

(2)    Time Period for Final Decision. The provisions for issuing a notice of final decision on any application filed pursuant to this chapter are set forth in Subtitle 40.5, Procedures.

d.    Development Applications. Development applications submitted with or subsequent to a forest practice application are subject to the development standards of this title.

6.    Fees. Fees for applications and/or review of reports or studies filed pursuant to this section are set forth in Title 6.

B.    Forest Practice Approvals.

1.    Purpose. This section provides tree farmers with options to encourage continued use of the land for tree farming. This section provides the general requirements, establishes a Type II review process pursuant to Subtitle 40.5, Procedures, with review criteria, and necessary findings for Class IV general forest practice permits and COHPs. Compliance with an approved Class IV general permit or COHP releases the landowner from the six (6) year moratorium.

2.    Class IV General Forest Practice Permits. An approved Class IV general permit provides the landowner the ability to harvest timber and to convert a site to a use other than commercial forest production.

a.    General Requirements.

(1)    A Class IV general permit shall be submitted prior to conducting forest practices on the project site;

(2)    All Class IV general permit applications shall describe the harvest method, including type of equipment to be used and the expected dates of commencement and completion of all harvest activity;

(3)    All Class IV general permit applications shall declare the type, extent, and schedule of future development plans;

(4)    Land that is to be converted to non-forestry uses shall be withdrawn from current use designation under the provisions of Chapters 84.33 and 84.34 RCW or Chapter 3.08 prior to issuance of county land use approvals for non-forestry uses;

(5)    Pasture conversions must be consistent with a farm management plan approved for the property by the Natural Resource Conservation Service or the Clark County conservation district. Those forest practices involving conversion of forest lands to pasture shall be required to meet the same buffer requirements as set forth in Section 40.260.080(A)(5)(b)(1).

b.    Review Criteria.

(1)    Class IV general permits shall comply with Section 40.260.080(A)(5).

(2)    Class IV general permits shall comply with the conditions of approval established through the associated development permit, forest practice permit or approved COHP.

c.    Approval Authority.

(1)    The responsible official shall review all requests for approvals, any comments received, and applicable regulations or policies and shall inspect the property prior to rendering a decision.

(2)    The responsible official may approve an application for a Class IV general permit, approve the application with conditions, require modification of the proposal to comply with specified requirements or local conditions, or deny the application if it fails to comply with requirements of this section.

d.    Required Written Findings and Determinations. A Class IV general permit shall be approved by the responsible official if the application is consistent with Section 40.260.080(A)(5).

3.    Conversion Option Harvest Plans (COHP). An approved COHP provides the landowner the ability to manage and harvest timber prior to application for a development permit while maintaining an option to convert lands to a non-forestry use. A six (6) year moratorium shall not be imposed on a site that meets the conditions of an approved COHP.

a.    General Requirements.

(1)    A COHP shall be submitted to the responsible official pursuant to WAC 222-20-050 and shall also contain the requirements described in this section.

(2)    A COHP shall include:

(a)    A narrative description of the objectives of the timber harvest, relationship of the harvest to future development of the site, built and natural features present at the site, measures to be taken to preserve and protect critical areas, harvest method including type of equipment to be used, and the expected dates of commencement and completion of all harvest activity;

(b)    A conceptual layout of a probable future site development, drawn to scale, based on the existing zoning and physical limitations of the property, including likely building areas, roads, driveways, septic system areas and lot lines.

(3)    The COHP shall be submitted prior to application for development and/or conducting forest practices on the project site.

(4)    The approved COHP shall be recorded with the County Auditor by the county upon approval. The recorded COHP shall contain an expiration date which is the same as the expiration date of the COHP.

(5)    The COHP shall be approved by the responsible official prior to application or notification to the DNR for the required Class II, Class III, or Class IV special forest practice.

(6)    The approval of a COHP shall not release a landowner from the requirement to reforest a site pursuant to Chapter 222-34 WAC.

b.    Review Criteria.

(1)    It shall be recognized that varying levels of management may occur in the riparian area depending on distance from the stream and functions to be provided. This shall be accomplished through approved alternate plans, which meet or exceed the current riparian function. Forest practices which utilize proven silvicultural techniques may also provide a continual source of solid wood fiber production, when executed through multiple entry limited harvests. The intended long-term benefits include an incentive through utilization, to reforest riparian areas which are currently understocked or non-stocked, to discourage overharvesting outside of the riparian areas and habitat fragmentation, and to create an older age class of the seral species and multi-structured canopies within the riparian areas.

(2)    Long-term silvicultural plans identifying current and projected biometrics which support the function and structure of riparian habitat shall be submitted for approval by the county for harvest within those areas which are identified as riparian habitat by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Any partial harvest activities allowed in any part of the riparian areas shall be consistent with riparian management areas rules per Chapter 222-30 WAC.

(3)    COHP approvals shall comply with Clark County Code as set forth in Section 40.260.080(A)(5) except as otherwise provided by this section.

(4)    All forested wetland and buffer boundaries shall be flagged on site and verified by the department.

(5)    Those parcels subject to the small forest landowner exemption (RCW 76.13.130) shall be subject to the following no harvest buffers rather than the table in WAC 222-20-023. Should RCW 76.13.130 be repealed, with the intent of applying more stringent standards, Table 40.260.080-1 shall be deemed automatically repealed and replaced with the standards as found in Chapter 222-30 WAC.

Table 40.260.080-1. Small Landowner Buffers for Exempt 20-Acre Parcels

Water Type/Average Width

No Harvest Buffer Width (feet)

1 & 2 Water/75' & over

115

1 & 2 Water/under 75'

100

3 Water/5' and over

75

3 Water/under 5'

50

4 Water

50

5 Water

25

c.    Approval Authority.

(1)    The responsible official shall review all requests for approvals, any comments received, and applicable county regulations or policies and shall inspect the property prior to rendering a decision.

(2)    The responsible official may approve an application for a COHP, approve the application with conditions, require modification of the proposal to comply with specified requirements or local conditions, or deny the application if it fails to comply with requirements of this section.

d.    Required Written Findings and Determinations. A COHP shall be approved by the responsible official if the application is consistent with standards referenced in Section 40.260.080(A)(5).

e.    Reforestation. All COHPs that are converted must have forested wetland buffers reforested within the following two (2) planting seasons after harvest in accordance with standards in Chapter 222-34 WAC.

f.    Conversions. Conversion of property subject to an approved COHP is prohibited for two (2) years following date of county approval unless a significant hardship is demonstrated, through a Type I process pursuant to Section 40.510.010, relating to the death or disability of the landowner.

g.    Vesting. Residential plat applications submitted within ten (10) years following COHP approval shall be subject to local land development codes in effect on the date of COHP approval, except that subsequently enacted critical area ordinance amendments related to recovery of threatened or endangered fish shall apply.

h.    Recorded Covenant. A declaration shall be recorded giving notice of the conversion option harvest plan and approval conditions with the protective measures relating to the conversion. This covenant shall be binding upon the landowner and successors in interest for a period of ten (10) years from the date of timber harvest.

C.    Development Moratoria.

1.    Purpose. This subsection provides the criteria for establishing development moratoria. The subsection also provides standards for the hearing examiner to remove a six (6) year development moratorium.

2.    Development Moratoria.

a.    General Requirements. All development moratoria established pursuant to this section shall be mandatory. Development applications and project construction for any development activity shall be prohibited for a term of six (6) years on a site subject to a moratorium.

b.    Actions That Result in a Development Moratorium. The following actions shall result in a six (6) year development moratorium being imposed:

(1)    The approval or notification by the Department of Natural Resources of a Class II, III, or IV special forest practices permit that does not have an associated COHP approval;

(2)    The violation of a COHP or Class IV general forest practice permit;

(3)    Activity that meets the definition of a Class II, III, or IV forest practices on a parcel without an approved forest practices application or notification;

(4)    No development action shall occur within an approved COHP unless granted relief under Section 40.260.080(C)(3), unless authorized by the COHP.

c.    Consequences of a Development Moratorium.

(1)    Clark County shall terminate review of any application for development of land which is, or becomes, subject to a six (6) year development moratorium. A new application shall be required for development of the site after the six (6) year moratorium expires.

(2)    Clark County shall not accept applications for any development of land which is subject to a six (6) year moratorium, during the moratorium period.

(3)    All development moratoria recorded by Clark County shall extend to the harvest area indicated in the forest practices permit or COHP. If no forest practice permit or COHP was issued, the moratorium shall apply to the entire parcel.

(4)    Prior to any development permit application, the property owner shall be required to submit a Class IV general permit application on land that was cleared without a required forest practice application or notification, without an approved COHP, or in violation of a Class II, Class III, or Class IV special permit.

(5)    Clark County shall notify the appropriate state agency if a forest practice activity that meets the definition of a Class II, III, or IV special forest practices has been initiated on a parcel without an approved forest practices application or notification.

d.    Effective Date of a Moratorium.

(1)    The six (6) year development moratorium shall be imposed from the effective date of a Class II, Class III, and Class IV special forest practice permit.

(2)    If a forest practice occurs on a site without the appropriate permit, a six (6) year development moratorium shall be recorded from the date the unpermitted forest practices were documented by Clark County or the Department of Natural Resources.

(3)    Where a site is subject to an approved Class II, III, or IV special forest practices permit with or without a COHP, forest practices occurring at the site which are outside the scope of the approved permit shall be considered unpermitted forest practices for moratorium purposes. In these cases, a six (6) year development moratorium shall be imposed from the date the unpermitted forest practices were documented by Clark County or the Department of Natural Resources.

(4)    If a condition of a COHP approval is significantly violated, a six (6) year development moratorium shall be recorded from the date the associated forest practice approval became effective.

3.    Request for Lifting of Development Moratorium. Any development moratorium established pursuant to Section 40.260.080(C)(2) may be lifted by the hearing examiner when the following requirements are met:

a.    Public Hearing Required.

(1)    The responsible official shall set a date for public hearing before the hearing examiner after all the requests for additional information or plan correction have been satisfied.

(2)    The public hearing shall follow the procedures set forth in Subtitle 40.5, Procedures.

b.    Review Criteria. The hearing examiner shall consider the lifting of a development moratorium established pursuant to this section when the following criteria are met:

(1)    The forest practices conducted on the site meet the standards set forth in Section 40.260.080(A)(5).

(2)    Corrective actions are implemented which would bring the forest practices into compliance with this section.

(3)    If critical areas or critical area buffers have been damaged, the hearing examiner may impose increased critical area buffer standards together with additional requirements to mitigate the damage, the cost of which shall equal at least twice the value of the timber harvested within a critical area and buffer.

c.    Approval.

(1)    The hearing examiner shall review all requests for removal of a development moratorium, any comments received, and applicable county regulations or policies and may inspect the property prior to rendering a decision.

(2)    The hearing examiner may approve an application for a request to remove a development moratorium, approve the application with conditions, require modification of the proposal to comply with specified requirements or local conditions, or deny the application if it fails to comply with requirements of this section.

d.    Required Written Findings and Determinations. Removal of a development moratorium shall be approved by the hearing examiner if the application meets the review and approval criteria in Sections 40.260.080(C)(3)(b) and (C)(3)(c).

D.    Single-Family Dwelling Moratoria Waiver.

1.    Purpose. To authorize the construction of one (1) single-family dwelling unit on a site that is subject to a six (6) year development moratorium.

2.    Request for Single-Family Dwelling Moratoria Waiver. The responsible official, through a Type I procedure, shall waive the six (6) year moratorium solely for construction of one (1) single-family residence and related accessory buildings on a building site outside of urban growth boundaries, under the following conditions:

a.    The parcel is a legal lot of record;

b.    The building site area intended as developed property shall not exceed two (2) acres in size;

c.    The construction activity is consistent with Chapters 40.450 (Wetland Protection), 40.440 (Habitat Conservation), 40.430 (Geologic Hazard Areas), and 40.460 (Shoreline Overlay District) including the shoreline management master program;

d.    The harvest was conducted under, and consistent with, an approved forest practices permit in compliance with the State Forest Practices Act;

e.    A binding written commitment submitted to, and approved by, the county, and recorded by the applicant with the County Auditor, so as to run with the land, which:

(1)    Contains a site plan depicting the building site area, any critical areas within the building site area, and access roads,

(2)    Commits the applicant to complete the reforestation in accordance with applicable forest practice reforestation requirements for areas other than the building site area;

f.    The development moratorium shall remain in effect for all other non-forestry uses of the site that are subject to county approval.

(Amended: Ord. 2011-08-08)