Consistent with statutes of the Forests and Fish Law, Washington’s private forest landowners rely on peer-reviewed science to help create and evaluate sustainable forest practices.
Measuring bag weight after measuring amphibian in the bag during a non-fish-bearing streams study.
More than 140 individuals, including scientists, policy makers, and regulators worked together for 18 months to develop the scientifically-based changes to forest practices rules found in the Forests & Fish Law to meet four key goals established by the Forest Practices Board:
The rules are monitored on the ground to ensure the objectives of restoring salmon habitat and protecting water quality are being met. If they are not, the rules will be changed through peer-reviewed scientific determination and Adaptive Management. This allows for rule changes if science shows it to be necessary.
On June 5, 2006, the federal government approved a 50-year Habitat Conservation Plan endorsing the State Forest Practices Program for protecting fish and water quality. The FPHCP was developed with recommendations from the multi-stakeholder Forests & Fish Report, adopted into rule July 2001. Forest practices result in improved aquatic and riparian habitat as well as improved water quality that better meet the ecological needs of fish and water.
The FPHCP created and implemented an effective Adaptive Management Plan for three reasons:
Progress toward reaching the four goals is measured through a set of resource objectives established by scientists for key aquatic conditions and processes. These objectives are designed to meet the conditions that salmon need to thrive during various phases of their life cycle.
Scientific research is being conducted to test the effectiveness of forest practices to determine whether resource objectives are providing:
Adaptive Management is a method for examining alternative strategies and is the mechanism for refining protection measures in an ongoing cycle of learning and improving over-time. The process complements the forest practices rules in two ways: 1) addressing near-term uncertainties, and 2) ensuring compliance with the Endangered Species Act over the long-term.
The Forest Practices Board formally established the adaptive management process which is managed and implemented by four entities:
The Washington State Legislature established the Forests & Fish Account in March 2006, funded by a surcharge on the Business and Occupation tax on forestry to provide adequate funding for adaptive management and monitoring of the implementation of the Forest Practices Habitat Conservation Plan.