Alternate Plans for Family Forests
The authors of the 1999 Forests and Fish Report recognized that the new rules would economically impact landowners, and emphasized the use of alternate plans as means of reducing the impacts. Alternate plans are site-specific management strategies that differ from the rules but are designed to result in equal or better public resource protection.
Alternate plans must describe how the proposed management options depart from the rules and how the alternative strategy is as effective as the rule prescription. Plans may be submitted for completion within a 3 to 5 year period as part of a single forest practices application or multiple applications where all the harvest units covered by the applications have similar geographical and environmental characteristics. Some examples where alternate plans may be useful include:
- Where minor on-the-ground modifications could result in significant operational efficiencies.
- Where site conditions have created an economically inaccessible management unit under the rules.
- Where the landowner proposes methods to facilitate landscape, riparian, or stream restoration.
The alternate plan application form requires that landowners provide:
- A written description of current site conditions, including tree species, height, and age; forest health issues (blowdown, fire damage, disease); and topography.
- Management goals, proposed activities, how the plan deviates from the rules, and how the plan protects public resources.
- A scaled map (preferably 1” = 400’ scale) of the management unit identifying the area included in the alternate plan, and the location of all streams, wetlands, lakes and ponds, unstable slopes, existing or proposed roads, and proposed activities.
- Documentation that all sites included in the plan share sufficient common characteristics to be considered together.
Under some conditions, DNR may require a description of the landowner’s proposed implementation schedule and monitoring strategy. Landowners may volunteer to develop the monitoring strategy or allow DNR to use its discretion.
The riparian functions that must be considered and addressed in an alternate plan are explained in Section 21 of the Forest Practices Board Manual. The section also includes two templates specifically for small forest landowners:
- The Western Washington Overstocked Stand template is designed to increase riparian function in stands that have or will show signs of suppressed growth. The harvest strategies include a no-harvest zone and a thinning zone.
- The Western Washington Fixed Width Riparian Management Zones template offers small forest landowners a simplified “fixed width” riparian buffer option for Type S and F Waters in Western Washington. The buffer widths vary according to site class and range from 75 feet for site class V to 145 feet for site class I.
If correctly applied, these templates may not require an Interdisciplinary Team to visit the site or the level of documentation required for standard alternate plans.
Additional information on alternate plans can be found on the Small Forest Landowner Office website, by calling the Small Forest Landowner Office at (360) 902-1415, or contacting your DNR region office.