Legislature Unanimously Strengthens Right to Forestry Law

Apr 24, 2009, 17:49 ET from Washington Forest Protection Association

Gov. Gregoire signs bill to protect forest landowners from nuisance lawsuits

OLYMPIA, Wash., April 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Gov. Chris Gregoire today signed Senate Bill 5562, amending the definition of "forest practice" in the nuisance law and shielding forest landowners from litigation in the future.

"Forestry has been practiced in Washington since before statehood. We are proud of the contributions that forestry continues to makes to society," said Mark Doumit, Executive Director of the Washington Forest Protection Association.

In Washington State, current law protects forest landowners from nuisance lawsuits, as long as forest practices are conducted in a manner that is consistent with good practices. The bill broadens the definition of forest practices in the nuisance law to include any activity conducted on or directly pertaining to forest land relating to growing, harvesting, or processing timber.

"The 'Right to Forestry' bill will help ensure that working forests at risk of conversion to development stay in production. These forests help fight climate change, protect our clean drinking water and preserve jobs in rural areas. The actions by Gov. Gregoire and the Legislature illustrate that Washington is a state that cares about its working landscape," said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark.

The new definition of forest practices allows landowners to conduct activities related to growing and harvesting timber, including road and trail construction, final and intermediate harvesting, precommercial thinning, reforestation, prevention and suppression of diseases and insects, salvage of trees and brush control.

"Farming and forestry are important elements in the advance of The Cascade Agenda," said Gene Duvernoy, President, Cascade Land Conservancy. "The Conservancy applauds the legislators for supporting the business of farming and forestry in the face of a rising tide of conversion. We take a long view with The Agenda and this legislation does the same thing for the owners of forests and farmlands."

"We want to thank Senator Bob Morton (R) of Kettle Falls and Representative Jim Jacks (D) of Clark County as prime sponsors of the Senate and House companion bills, which received unanimous support in both the Senate and House. This shows strong bi-partisan, statewide support for the importance of forestry to the citizens in our state," said Doumit.

Washington Forest Protection Association is a trade association representing private forest landowners in Washington State. Members of this 100-year old association are large and small companies, individuals and families who practice sustainable forestry in Washington's private forests.

SOURCE Washington Forest Protection Association