Chapter 18H.20
FOREST PRACTICE APPROVALS Revised 12/18 Revised 6/19

Sections:

18H.20.010    Purpose. Revised 12/18

18H.20.020    Exemptions. Revised 12/18 Revised 6/19

18H.20.025    Shorelines of Statewide Significance. Revised 6/19

18H.20.030    Class IV-General Forest Practices. Revised 12/18 Revised 6/19

18H.20.040    Class I Forest Practices. Revised 12/18

18H.20.050    Conversion Option Harvest Plans (COHP). Revised 12/18

18H.20.060    Additional Requirements Applicable to all Applications. Revised 12/18

18H.20.070    Modifications.

18H.20.080    Time Limitations.

18H.20.010 Purpose. Revised 12/18

This Chapter sets forth procedures and criteria for Pierce County approval of Class IV-General forest practices, conversion option harvest plans (COHP) and certain Class I forest practices, regulated under the Washington State Forest Practices Act, Chapter 76.09 RCW. (Ord. 2017-89s § 5 (part), 2018; Ord. 2004-58s § 5 (part), 2004)

18H.20.020 Exemptions. Revised 12/18 Revised 6/19

Unless proposed on a Shoreline of Statewide Significance, the following activities are exempted from the provisions of this Chapter:

A.    Class I forest practices located outside of UGAs, except when the forest practices are associated with the conversion of land to a non-forestry use.

B.    Class I forest practices located within UGAs that do not involve road construction or timber harvesting.

C.    Class II, III, and IV-Special forest practices on ownerships of contiguous forest land greater than 20 acres in a UGA where the landowner submits a 10-year statement of non-conversion to the Department of Natural Resources (reforestation agreement) together with either an acceptable 10-Year Forest Management Plan or proof that the land is currently enrolled in Designated Forest Land, under the provisions of Chapter 84.33 RCW.

D.    Class II, III, and IV-Special forest practices located outside UGAs, which are permitted or approved by the Department of Natural Resources, and do not have an associated COHP.

(Ord. 2017-89s § 5 (part), 2018; Ord. 2013-45s4 § 5 (part), 2015; Ord. 2006-103s § 3 (part), 2006; Ord. 2004-58s § 5 (part), 2004)

18H.20.025 Shorelines of Statewide Significance. Revised 6/19

Although a forest practices approval from the County is not required, the following requirement shall be met:

A.    For Class I, II, and III Forest Practices located within 200 feet of the OHWM of Shorelines of Statewide Significance, selective commercial timber cutting shall not exceed 30 percent of the merchantable trees in any 10-year period. Shorelines of Statewide Significance are identified in PCC 18S.20.020.

(Ord. 2013-45s4 § 5 (part), 2015)

18H.20.030 Class IV-General Forest Practices. Revised 12/18 Revised 6/19

A.    State and Local Approval. Pursuant to the RCW, Pierce County is designated lead agency for compliance with the State Environmental Policy Act. Pierce County is also permitted to exercise any: (1) Land use planning or zoning authority, (2) Taxing powers, (3) Regulatory authority with respect to public health, and (4) Authority granted by Chapter 90.58 RCW (Shoreline Management Act); provided, that the land use planning or zoning authority regulations shall not be inconsistent with the forest practice regulations enacted under Chapter 76.09 RCW. Accordingly, a SEPA threshold determination is required to be obtained from Pierce County prior to obtaining a Class IV-General forest practices permit from Pierce County. Prior to conducting any forest practices defined as Class IV-General, an approved Class IV-General forest practices permit shall be obtained from Pierce County.

B.    Application Filing. Applications for Class IV-General approvals shall be reviewed for completeness in accordance with Departmental submittal standards checklist and pursuant to Title 18 PCC, Development Regulations – General Provisions.

C.    General Requirements.

1.    An application for a Class IV-General approval shall be submitted prior to conducting forest practices on the project site.

2.    A Class IV-General approval shall not be issued until a SEPA threshold determination has been issued for the proposed forest practices.

3.    A Class IV-General approval shall not be issued until either a Site Development permit, which addresses the proposed logging and associated clearing, has been issued, or it is determined by Pierce County that a Site Development permit is not required.

4.    A Class IV-General approval will not be issued until any pending development permit applications that are associated with the site have been approved/issued.

5.    Where an interlocal agreement regarding tree preservation has been entered into between a city or town and Pierce County, the city's or town's tree preservation standards shall be applied to forest practices occurring within their designated urban growth area or urban service area, if those standards are more restrictive.

6.    Class IV-General forest practices shall comply with all applicable provisions of the Pierce County Code, including the Tree Conservation provisions of Chapter 18J.15 PCC.

7.    Class IV-General forest practices shall comply with any conditions of approval established through the associated development permit or approval.

8.    Class IV-General forest practices conducted on land in an Urban Growth Area (UGA) that are not associated with an application for land division or subdivision, use permit, commercial building permit, or single- or two-family residential building permit shall be limited to the removal of not more than 35 percent of the total volume of merchantable timber throughout the gross area of the parcel during any 6-year period, or until one of these development permit applications is approved/issued and another Class IV-General forest practices is obtained.

9.    The site shall be posted with a copy of the issued Class IV-General approval prior to the initiation of timber harvest and until the harvest is finished at the main entrance to the property in such a manner that it is visible to the general public without having to trespass on the property.

D.    Required Findings. A Class IV-General approval may be issued by the Director only if all of the following findings can be made regarding the proposal and are supported by the record:

1.    The granting of the proposed Class IV-General approval will not be detrimental to the public health, safety, and general welfare.

2.    The granting of the proposed Class IV-General approval will not be injurious to the property or improvements adjacent to and in the vicinity of the proposal.

3.    The granting of the proposed Class IV-General approval will not result in significant adverse environmental impacts.

4.    The granting of the proposed Class IV-General approval is consistent with the general requirements set forth in 18H.20.030 C.

5.    The granting of the proposed Class IV-General approval is consistent and compatible with the goals, objectives, and policies of the Comprehensive Plan, appropriate community plan, and the provisions of this Title.

E.    Burden of Proof. The applicant has the burden of proving that the forest practices comply with the provisions of this Title.

F.    Approval Authority.

1.    The Director shall review all requests for approvals, any comments received, and applicable County regulations or policies, and may inspect the property prior to rendering a decision.

2.    The Director may approve an application, 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 Title.

(Ord. 2017-89s § 5 (part), 2018; Ord. 2013-45s4 § 5 (part), 2015; Ord. 2009-98s § 6 (part), 2010; Ord. 2009-18s3 § 6 (part), 2009; Ord. 2006-103s § 3 (part), 2006; Ord. 2004-58s § 5 (part), 2004)

18H.20.040 Class I Forest Practices. Revised 12/18

A.    Class I forest practices that result in the cutting and/or removal of less than 5,000 board feet of timber for personal use (e.g., firewood, fence posts, etc.) in any 12-month period, the culture and harvest of Christmas trees and seedlings, and/or emergency fire control or suppression shall not be required to obtain any forest practices approval from Pierce County. Although a forest practices approval is not required, the following requirements shall be met:

1.    Class I forest practices proposed within a wetland, stream, landslide hazard area, erosion hazard area, fish and wildlife area, or other critical area and associated buffer regulated pursuant to Title 18E PCC, Development Regulations – Critical Areas, shall comply with all applicable requirements of that Title.

2.    Class I forest practices proposed within other open space areas or buffers, including but not limited to natural buffer areas, screening buffers, and tree conservation areas established pursuant to any other permit, approval, or regulation, shall comply with the following standards:

a.    Written authorization from the Planning and Public Works Department shall be required prior to the removal of trees except as provided by PCC 18H.20.040 A.2.e.

b.    Tree cutting shall be authorized only when:

(1)    It is demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Planning and Public Works Department that a hazard exists to public health or safety, the safety of private or public property, or the health of surrounding trees. In these cases, the landowner shall be required to submit a report and replanting plan from a registered landscape architect, certified arborist, professional forester or other expert approved by Pierce County that document the hazard, the specific actions that must occur to abate the threat, and the schedule for replanting; or

(2)    The permit or approval that established the open space or buffer area expressly authorizes the proposed tree cutting.

c.    Tree cutting shall be limited to limbing and crown thinning, unless otherwise justified by the landowner's expert.

d.    The landowner shall replace any trees that are felled or removed with new trees at a ratio of two replacement trees for each tree felled, topped or removed. Replacement trees shall meet the standards set forth in PCC 18J.15.030.

e.    Diseased, Danger, and/or Hazard trees determined to pose an imminent threat or danger to public health or safety, or to public or private property, or serious environmental degradation may be removed or limbed by the landowner prior to receiving written approval from Pierce County; provided that within 14 days following such action, the landowner shall submit the necessary report and replanting schedule demonstrating compliance with the requirements of this Section.

3.    The forest practices shall comply with all applicable requirements of Pierce County Code, including but not limited to Title 17A PCC, Construction and Infrastructure Regulations – Site Development and Stormwater Drainage, Title 18E PCC, Development Regulations – Critical Areas, Title 18J PCC, Development Regulations – Design Standards and Guidelines, and Title 20 PCC, Shoreline Management Use Regulations.

B.    Any forest practice within the Urban Growth Area resulting in the cutting and/or removal of more than 5,000 board feet of merchantable timber shall be processed as a Class IV-General forest practice pursuant to RCW 76.09.050(1), including those that meet the criteria for Class I forest practices pursuant to WAC 222-16-050(3), e.g., forest practices involving a single landowner where contiguous ownership is less than 2 acres in size. All such forest practices shall comply with the requirements and approval criteria for Class IV-General forest practices set forth in PCC 18H.20.030, except that those meeting the criteria for Class I forest practices pursuant to WAC 222-16-050(3) shall not be subject to environmental review under the State Environmental Policy Act (Chapter 43.21C RCW).

(Ord. 2017-89s § 5 (part), 2018; Ord. 2017-12s § 2 (part), 2017; Ord. 2016-33 § 2 (part), 2016; Ord. 2016-14s § 5, 2016; Ord. 2010-70s § 14 (part), 2010; Ord. 2009-98s § 6 (part), 2010; Ord. 2009-18s3 § 6 (part), 2009; Ord. 2006-103s § 3 (part), 2006; Ord. 2004-58s § 5 (part), 2004)

18H.20.050 Conversion Option Harvest Plans (COHP). Revised 12/18

A.    Optional Process. A Conversion Option Harvest Plan (COHP) is a voluntary plan required of a Class II, III, or IV-Special forest practices operation, pre-approved by Pierce County, produced to preserve the forest landowners' option to convert that forest land to a non-commercial forest use, as well as exempt the forest landowner from the development moratorium. COHPs are approved by the county to provide a landowner with the flexibility of harvesting timber upon their land prior to applying for a development permit, but still maintain the option to convert that land to a non-commercial forestry use. Sites that meet their jointly approved COHP conditions are not subject to the 6-year development moratorium ordinarily imposed under RCW 76.09.

B.    Application Filing. An application for a COHP shall be reviewed for completeness in accordance with Departmental submittal standards checklist and pursuant to Title 18 PCC, Development Regulations – General Provisions, and any applicable standards set forth in RCW 76.09 and its rules.

C.    General Requirements.

1.    A COHP shall include 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.

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

3.    The COHP shall be approved by the Department prior to the submittal of the associated forest practices permit to the DNR.

4.    The approval of a COHP shall not release a landowner from the requirement to reforest a site pursuant to Chapter 222-34 WAC. The site shall be reforested to the standards of Chapter 222-34 WAC if not converted (issuance of a building permit or site development permit, preliminary plat approval or use permit approval) within three years from the issuance of an associated forest practices permit by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

5.    The COHP shall comply with all applicable standards and provisions of the Pierce County Code and Chapter 76.09 RCW.

6.    The COHP shall result in the removal of not more than 90 percent of the total volume of merchantable timber, by species, throughout the gross area of the parcel. Retained trees shall consist of timber that is equivalent to the average size, species, and age of the harvested trees. Trees should be selected for retention based upon a consideration of windthrow potential, wildlife value, aesthetics, and compatibility with future development. Narrow strips of trees along a parcel's perimeter boundaries should be avoided due to windthrow potential. Trees located inside regulated wetlands may be included toward the 10 percent retention requirement.

7.    Significant Trees. At a minimum, 30 percent of all significant trees as identified within Table 18J.15.030-1 shall be retained. Garry (Oregon White) Oak trees and stands meeting the criteria set forth in PCC 18E.40.020 D. (Habitats of Local Importance) shall be subject to additional retention and protection pursuant to PCC 18E.40.040 C.

8.    Trees Proposed for Retention. Trees proposed for retention must meet the following minimum standards:

a.    Must have a post-development life expectancy of greater than 10 years;

b.    Must have a relatively sound and solid trunk with no extensive decay or hollow and no significant trunk damage;

c.    Must have no major insect or pathological problem;

d.    Must have no significant crown damage;

e.    Must be fully branched and generally proportional in height and breadth for the tree age; and

f.    Individual trees and groupings of trees proposed for retention must be windfirm in their post logging state.

D.    Burden of Proof. The applicant has the burden of proving that the COHP complies with the provisions of this Title.

E.    Approval Authority.

1.    The Director 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 Director 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 Title.

3.    A Pierce County approved COHP application shall be submitted to the DNR in association with the pertinent Class II, III, or IV-Special forest practices application. A COHP shall not be final until the County approves the COHP and the Department of Natural Resources issues the associated forest practices application or notification.

(Ord. 2017-89s § 5 (part), 2018; Ord. 2009-98s § 6 (part), 2010; Ord. 2009-18s3 § 6 (part), 2009; Ord. 2006-103s § 3 (part), 2006; Ord. 2004-58s § 5 (part), 2004)

18H.20.060 Additional Requirements Applicable to all Applications. Revised 12/18

A.    Site Plans. All Class IV-General and COHP applications submitted pursuant to this Chapter shall include a site plan containing the following information, if applicable:

1.    Harvest boundaries and tree retention areas;

2.    The approximate location of any structures;

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

4.    The location of future land development such as a building site, septic drainfield areas, and/or well;

5.    Site topography at a contour interval of 40 feet;

6.    Critical areas and critical area buffers including, but not limited to, wetlands, streams, landslide, wildlife habitat, and erosion hazard areas, regulated pursuant to Title 18E PCC, Critical Areas;

7.    Drainage ways; and

8.    North seeking arrow and scale shall be shown on all site plans. The scale shall be no smaller than one inch to 200 feet.

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

1.    Critical areas and critical area buffers regulated pursuant to Title 18E PCC, Critical Areas;

2.    Landing areas;

3.    Tree retention areas; and

4.    Cutting boundaries.

(Ord. 2017-89s § 5 (part), 2018; Ord. 2009-18s3 § 6 (part), 2009; Ord. 2004-58s § 5 (part), 2004)

18H.20.070 Modifications.

A one-time modification to any application submitted pursuant to this Chapter may be permitted administratively provided the proposed modification is minor in nature and does not enlarge the area approved to be harvested or increase the volume of timber approved to be harvested by more than 10 percent or result in forest practices occurring within a critical area, critical area buffer, or tree retention area. Any modification exceeding these thresholds shall require a new application and associated fees. (Ord. 2004-58s § 5 (part), 2004)

18H.20.080 Time Limitations.

A.    Expiration of Approvals.

1.    A Class IV-General approval shall be valid for two consecutive years following the date of issuance unless a longer time period has been established through an associated approval (e.g., preliminary plat approval, Conditional Use Permit, etc.) in which case the time limits applicable to the associated approval shall apply.

2.    A COHP shall be valid for a period of two years unless a longer period of time is established for the associated forest practices permit or approval issued by DNR in which case the time limits applicable to the DNR permit or approval shall apply. If, however, a forest practices permit is not approved by DNR and executed by the landowner within two years of the approval of the COHP, the COHP shall become null and void.

3.    A time extension of a development permit by the Hearing Examiner shall extend any associated Class IV-General approval. (Ord. 2004-58s § 5 (part), 2004)