Forest Rules to Know
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Photo credit: Oregon Forest Resources Institute.
Photo credit: Andy Bauer.
Photo credit: Andy Bauer.
Why forest rules are important:
Oregon has laws to protect forests and the natural resources they contain.
As a leader in the nation’s timber industry, Oregon strives to maintain its robust and long-lasting forestry sector by requiring certain management practices.
At Tualatin SWCD, we do not enforce or report on laws that protect forests, but we can help introduce you to the responsibilities of forestland managers.
The Oregon Forest Practices Act (FPA) is the central law regulating forest management practices in the state. The FPA authorizes the Oregon Board of Forestry to create rules related to timber harvesting, firefighting, chemical use, road construction, and environmental protection. Today, there are over 250 enforceable forest management rules.
Forest Practices Act:
What does the Forest Practices Act regulate?
The FPA regulates any “operation” or “forest practice” in state and privately owned forestland. An “operation” or “forest practice” is any commercial activity related to the establishment, management, or harvest of forest tree species. Most regulated actions fall within the following categories: site preparation, reforestation, harvesting, road construction, or use of pesticides and fertilizers.
What is the first step to complying with the Forest Practices Act?
Before beginning an operation or forest practice, landowners and operators usually must notify Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) by submitting a Notification of Operation at least 15 days before the operation begins.
Notifications & Permits:
The Notification of Operation can be completed through the ODF online system, FERNS. The notification requires a description and location of the planned activity, and information about who will be implementing the activity. Some activities like planting trees, routine road maintenance, non-commercial collection of firewood, or minor forest products do not require a notification.
Is a Notification of Operation the same as a permit?
No, a Notification of Operation is not a permit. Some operations, such as work that requires burning or heavy machinery, will require the landowner to obtain a permit in addition to making the Notification of Operation. Applying for a permit can be done at the same time as submitting the Notification of Operation. This task can also be completed through ODF’s online system, FERNS.
What is the purpose of notifications and permits?
Notifications and permits are the state’s tools for understanding and monitoring activity in Oregon forests. Most operations take place in unique settings, which require specific actions to protect the surrounding soil, water, and habitat. By communicating with ODF, landowners and operators collaborate with ODF Stewardship Foresters to ensure forest practices comply with the many complex rules that fall under the FPA.
Important forest rules to know in Oregon:
These rules are the foundation of the FPA. They require landowners to:
- Replant harvested ground within two years of harvest
- Ensure newly planted trees become strong and healthy within six years of planting
- Water protection
Forests play an important role in cleansing water sources used for drinking and fish habitat. These rules require landowners to:
- Maintain buffers of trees and shrubs along streams, creeks, and rivers
- Avoid spraying chemicals near streams or during weather conditions that could cause chemicals to pollute these waterways
Natural forests are composed of trees and debris of all ages. Some wildlife relies on young trees and shrubs, while others need old-growth or dead trees to survive. FPA protects habitat by requiring landowners to:
- Leave at least two living trees or two snagsSnags Dead or dying trees that remain standing. per acre of harvested forest
- Leave at least two fallen logs per acre of harvested forest
- Modify harvest plans to protect sensitive wildlife areas used by species of concernSpecies Of Concern Wildlife that are feared to be at risk, but insufficient information is available to list the species under the Endangered Species Act. such as the bald eagle and northern spotted owl
- Herbicide use
Herbicides are sometimes applied after timber harvest to help newly planted trees outcompete fast-growing weeds. Herbicide use is regulated to protect human health and environmental safety. When applying herbicide, landowners must:
- Complete a written plan for any chemical use within 100 feet of a fish-bearing stream
- Maintain daily application records
- Follow all label directions and restrictions
- Abide by strict rules for aerial applications
Forest roads are essential for hauling timber and fighting fires, but they can also be sources of pollution. FPA standards are intended to reduce sediment runoff into nearby waterways. Landowners are required to:
- Conduct routine inspection and maintenance of roads
- Replant and recontour unused roads
- Exercise caution when using roads during wet weather
Logging can be done in several ways. These rules aim to protect soil, water, and habitat regardless of the harvest method used. Examples of harvesting rules include:
- Limit clearcutting to 120 acres; no adjacent clearcutting may be done until the original harvest area contains trees that are at least 4 feet tall.
- Avoid timber harvest on steep slopes that put roads or homes at risk of landslides
- Oregon State University’s online Tree School
- Forest protection
Contact Annie Bronez if you'd like to receive a free, printed copy of this manual.View Oregon's Forest Protection Laws (PDF)
- Responsible forest management
- Tree school webinars, manuals, and more