Rivers and Habitat Open Space Program

Options for Owners of Timbered Lands within Channel Migration Zones in Washington State

Channel migration zone and gravel bars.

Beginning May 1, 2014, DNR will accept applications for conservation easements in channel migration zones. The Rivers and Habitat Open Space Program compensates landowners who are prohibited by the Forest Practice Rules from harvesting timber on forest lands within channel migration zones or within critical habitat for threatened and endangered species.

In this program, landowners can either donate or sell permanent conservation easements for trees, or both land and trees, on their qualifying properties. Sixteen easements have been purchased since 2002 when funding first became available.

How to apply
The application is available on the DNR website, or by contacting Dan Pomerenk in DNR’s Forest Practices Division (360-902-1427, dan.pomerenk@dnr.wa.gov). Applications will be accepted from May 1 through July 31, 2014.

To qualify for the Rivers and Habitat Open Space Program, the project must:

  • Be located within an channel migration zone;
  • Be identified in county assessor records as “designated forest land” under chapter 84.33 RCW or “current use forest land” under chapter 84.34 RCW;
  • Provide legal access to the land for DNR to administer the program and easement;
  • Be agreed to by all persons who have an interest in the property. Each person must individually convey their interests to the state to the extent necessary for the purchase of the property or conservation easement;
  • Have an applicant willing and able to provide reasonable indemnification; and
  • Be suitable for fisheries enhancement or ecological protection.

The application requires:

  • A description of the proposed property including the location and the estimated acreage.
  • A description of the method used to determine whether the land qualifies as a channel migration zone.
  • A map showing the approximate boundary between the channel migration zone and the adjoining riparian management zone core area.

Mail the completed application, property description, the method used for determining that the property qualifies as a channel migration zone, and map to:

Washington Department of Natural Resources
Forest Practices Division
Rivers and Habitat Open Space Program
P.O. Box 47012
Olympia, WA 98504-7012

Review process
A selection committee will prioritize applications for funding based on the project’s ecological value to salmon and other species, benefits to water quality, the quality of habitat, site significance, and landowner management options. Projects will be funded in order of ranked priority until all funds are expended. It is not known at this time how many projects can be funded in this biennium. If eligible applications exceed current funding, the remaining applicants can opt to be considered for future funding opportunities.

In the near future, DNR will post the application and instructions for easements in critical habitat for state threatened and endangered species; and will begin accepting applications.