BILL REQ. #: H-2454.1
|State of Washington||60th Legislature||2007 Regular Session|
READ FIRST TIME 02/28/07.
AN ACT Relating to forest practices regulations applicable to small forest landowners; amending RCW 76.13.120 and 76.13.140; and creating a new section.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
NEW SECTION. Sec. 1 (1) This act is intended to allow the small
forest landowner office to begin the process of calculating the
compensation that may be offered to a small forest landowner who is
participating in the forest riparian easement program shortly after
receipt of the landowner's application. Timing the compensation
calculation with the receipt of the application, as opposed to
initiating the compensation determination upon the appropriation of
distributable funds, allows the small forest landowner office to both
capture the actual value of the unharvested timber at the time that the
forest practices operation was conducted, and allows the small forest
landowner office to more accurately estimate for the legislature the
budget needs of the forest riparian easement program.
(2) To implement the intent of this act:
(a) The small forest landowner office shall, by the end of the 2007-2009 fiscal biennium, use any funding specifically made available to it for these purposes from the state's capital construction budget to complete the compensation estimates and execute the resulting easement contracts for forest riparian easement contracts received by the small forest landowner office prior to the effective date of this section; and
(b) The forest practices board shall initiate and complete a rule-making procedure to amend the current text of WAC 222-21-050 in such a way that the requirement for the small forest landowner office to send a landowner a notice of compensation within sixty days of completion of the requisite timber cruise is substantially modified or repealed.
Sec. 2 RCW 76.13.120 and 2004 c 102 s 1 are each amended to read
(1) The legislature finds that the state should acquire easements along riparian and other sensitive aquatic areas from small forest landowners willing to sell or donate such easements to the state provided that the state will not be required to acquire such easements if they are subject to unacceptable liabilities. The legislature therefore establishes a forestry riparian easement program.
(2) The definitions in this subsection apply throughout this section and RCW 76.13.100 and 76.13.110 unless the context clearly requires otherwise.
(a) "Forestry riparian easement" means an easement covering qualifying timber granted voluntarily to the state by a small forest landowner.
(b) "Qualifying timber" means: (i) Those trees covered by a forest practices application that the small forest landowner is required to leave unharvested under the rules adopted under RCW 76.09.055 and 76.09.370 or that is made uneconomic to harvest by those rules, and for which the small landowner is willing to grant the state a forestry riparian easement; and (ii) those trees covered by a forest practices application that a small forest landowner who is eligible for the exemption provided in RCW 76.13.130 voluntarily leaves unharvested, to the extent that the landowner would have been required to leave those trees unharvested under the rules adopted under RCW 76.09.370, if the landowner was not eligible for the exemption provided in RCW 76.13.130. "Qualifying timber" is timber within or bordering a commercially reasonable harvest unit as determined under rules adopted by the forest practices board, or timber for which an approved forest practices application for timber harvest cannot be obtained because of restrictions under the forest practices rules, including restrictions on harvesting in riparian areas and restrictions on harvesting on unstable slopes.
(c) "Small forest landowner" means a landowner meeting all of the following characteristics: (i) A forest landowner as defined in RCW 76.09.020 whose interest in the land and timber is in fee or who has rights to the timber to be included in the forestry riparian easement that extend at least fifty years from the date the forest practices application associated with the easement is submitted; (ii) an entity that has harvested from its own lands in this state during the three years prior to the year of application an average timber volume that would qualify the owner as a small harvester under RCW 84.33.035; and (iii) an entity that certifies at the time of application that it does not expect to harvest from its own lands more than the volume allowed by RCW 84.33.035 during the ten years following application. If a landowner's prior three-year average harvest exceeds the limit of RCW 84.33.035, or the landowner expects to exceed this limit during the ten years following application, and that landowner establishes to the department of natural resources' reasonable satisfaction that the harvest limits were or will be exceeded to raise funds to pay estate taxes or equally compelling and unexpected obligations such as court-ordered judgments or extraordinary medical expenses, the landowner shall be deemed to be a small forest landowner.
For purposes of determining whether a person qualifies as a small forest landowner, the small forest landowner office, created in RCW 76.13.110, shall evaluate the landowner under this definition, pursuant to RCW 76.13.160, as of the date that the forest practices application is submitted or the date the landowner notifies the department that the harvest is to begin with which the forestry riparian easement is associated. A small forest landowner can include an individual, partnership, corporate, or other nongovernmental legal entity. If a landowner grants timber rights to another entity for less than five years, the landowner may still qualify as a small forest landowner under this section. If a landowner is unable to obtain an approved forest practices application for timber harvest for any of his or her land because of restrictions under the forest practices rules, the landowner may still qualify as a small forest landowner under this section.
(d) "Completion of harvest" means that the trees have been harvested from an area and that further entry into that area by mechanized logging or slash treating equipment is not expected.
(3) The department of natural resources is authorized and directed to accept and hold in the name of the state of Washington forestry riparian easements granted by small forest landowners covering qualifying timber and to pay compensation to such landowners in accordance with subsections (6) and (7) of this section. The department of natural resources may not transfer the easements to any entity other than another state agency.
(4) Forestry riparian easements shall be effective for fifty years from the date the forest practices application associated with the qualifying timber is submitted to the department of natural resources, unless the easement is terminated earlier by the department of natural resources voluntarily, based on a determination that termination is in the best interest of the state, or under the terms of a termination clause in the easement.
(5) Forestry riparian easements shall be restrictive only, and shall preserve all lawful uses of the easement premises by the landowner that are consistent with the terms of the easement and the requirement to protect riparian functions during the term of the easement, subject to the restriction that the leave trees required by the rules to be left on the easement premises may not be cut during the term of the easement. No right of public access to or across, or any public use of the easement premises is created by this statute or by the easement. Forestry riparian easements shall not be deemed to trigger the compensating tax of or otherwise disqualify land from being taxed under chapter 84.33 or 84.34 RCW.
(6) Upon application ((
of)) from a small forest landowner for a
riparian easement that is associated with a forest practices
application and the landowner's marking of the qualifying timber on the
qualifying lands, the small forest landowner office shall determine the
compensation to be offered to the small forest landowner as provided
for in this section.
(b) The small forest landowner office shall also determine the compensation to be offered to a small forest landowner for qualifying timber for which an approved forest practices application for timber harvest cannot be obtained because of restrictions under the forest practices rules.
(c) The legislature recognizes that there is not readily available market transaction evidence of value for easements of this nature, and thus establishes the ((
following)) methodology contained in this
section to ascertain the value for forestry riparian easements. Values
so determined shall not be considered competent evidence of value for
any other purpose.
(d) The small forest landowner office shall establish the volume of the qualifying timber. Based on that volume and using data obtained or maintained by the department of revenue under RCW 84.33.074 and 84.33.091, the small forest landowner office shall attempt to determine the fair market value of the qualifying timber as of the date the forest practices application associated with the qualifying timber was submitted or the date the landowner notifies the department that the harvest is to begin. Removal of any qualifying timber before the expiration of the easement must be in accordance with the forest practices rules and the terms of the easement. There shall be no reduction in compensation for reentry.
(e) The small forest landowner office shall initiate the process for determining the compensation amount as soon as possible after receipt of an application. No duty to present an actual offer for compensation exists until appropriations allow.
(7) Except as provided in subsection (8) of this section, the small forest landowner office shall, subject to available funding, offer compensation to the small forest landowner in the amount of fifty percent of the value determined in subsection (6) of this section, plus the compliance and reimbursement costs as determined in accordance with RCW 76.13.140. If the landowner accepts the offer for qualifying timber that will be harvested pursuant to an approved forest practices application, the department of natural resources shall pay the compensation promptly upon (a) completion of harvest in the area covered by the forestry riparian easement; (b) verification that there has been compliance with the rules requiring leave trees in the easement area; and (c) execution and delivery of the easement to the department of natural resources. If the landowner accepts the offer for qualifying timber for which an approved forest practices application for timber harvest cannot be obtained because of restrictions under the forest practices rules, the department of natural resources shall pay the compensation promptly upon (i) verification that there has been compliance with the rules requiring leave trees in the easement area; and (ii) execution and delivery of the easement to the department of natural resources. Upon donation or payment of compensation, the department of natural resources may record the easement.
(8) For approved forest practices applications where the regulatory impact is greater than the average percentage impact for all small landowners as determined by the department of natural resources analysis under the regulatory fairness act, chapter 19.85 RCW, the compensation offered will be increased to one hundred percent for that portion of the regulatory impact that is in excess of the average. Regulatory impact includes trees left in buffers, special management zones, and those rendered uneconomic to harvest by these rules. A separate average or high impact regulatory threshold shall be established for western and eastern Washington. Criteria for these measurements and payments shall be established by the small forest landowner office.
(9) The forest practices board shall adopt rules under the administrative procedure act, chapter 34.05 RCW, to implement the forestry riparian easement program, including the following:
(a) A standard version or versions of all documents necessary or advisable to create the forestry riparian easements as provided for in this section;
(b) Standards for descriptions of the easement premises with a degree of precision that is reasonable in relation to the values involved;
(c) Methods and standards for cruises and valuation of forestry riparian easements for purposes of establishing the compensation. The department of natural resources shall perform the timber cruises of forestry riparian easements required under this chapter and chapter 76.09 RCW. Any rules concerning the methods and standards for valuations of forestry riparian easements shall apply only to the department of natural resources, small forest landowners, and the small forest landowner office;
(d) A method to determine that a forest practices application involves a commercially reasonable harvest, and adopt criteria for entering into a forest riparian easement where a commercially reasonable harvest is not possible or a forest practices application that has been submitted cannot be approved because of restrictions under the forest practices rules;
(e) A method to address blowdown of qualified timber falling outside the easement premises;
(f) A formula for sharing of proceeds in relation to the acquisition of qualified timber covered by an easement through the exercise or threats of eminent domain by a federal or state agency with eminent domain authority, based on the present value of the department of natural resources' and the landowner's relative interests in the qualified timber;
(g) High impact regulatory thresholds;
(h) A method to determine timber that is qualifying timber because it is rendered uneconomic to harvest by the rules adopted under RCW 76.09.055 and 76.09.370; and
(i) A method for internal department of natural resources review of small forest landowner office compensation decisions under subsection (7) of this section.
Sec. 3 RCW 76.13.140 and 2002 c 120 s 3 are each amended to read
(1) In order to assist small forest landowners to remain economically viable, the legislature intends that the small forest landowners be able to net fifty percent of the value of the trees left in the buffer areas.
(2) The amount of compensation offered in RCW 76.13.120 shall also include the compliance costs for participation in the riparian easement program. For purposes of this section, "compliance costs" includes the cost of preparing and recording the easement, and any business and occupation tax and real estate excise tax imposed because of entering into the easement.
(3) The office may contract with private consultants that the office finds qualified to perform timber cruises of forestry riparian easements or to lay out streamside buffers and comply with other forest and fish regulatory requirements related to the forest riparian easement program.
(4) Once a contract has been executed for the forestry riparian easement program, the department shall reimburse small forest landowners for the actual costs incurred for laying out the streamside buffers ((
and)), marking the qualifying timber (( once a contract has
been executed for the forestry riparian easement program)), and hiring
a qualified expert to prepare a geotechnical report as part of the
forest practices application upon which the easement application is
based. Reimbursement is subject to the work being acceptable to the
department. The small forest landowner office shall determine how the
reimbursement costs will be calculated.