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Forest Practices Act

For more information contact:

DAHP Forest Practices Act Review Group

The Forest Practices Rules Board establishes standards for forest practices such as timber harvest, pre-commercial thinning, road construction, fertilization, and forest chemical application (Title 222 WAC).   The rules are designed to protect public resources such as historic and cultural sites while maintaining a viable timber industry.

If you think you have witnessed unpermitted or illegal tree cutting, please contact DNR Code Enforcement or the DNR FPARS Help Desk at (360) 902-1420.

Culturally modified tree showing area stripped of bark for clothing and baskets.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR), with the assistance of the Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation (DAHP) maintains a record of archaeological sites and tribes with an interest in cultural resources in specific geographical areas.

After submitting a Forest Practices Application, DNR may tell you that your harvest area has a cultural resource such as an archaeological site.  If DNR tells you that your harvest area includes an archaeological site, evidence of Native American cairns, graves or glyptic records, state law requires that you obtain a permit from the DAHP before conducting any operation or activities that would disturb or potentially damage the site or objects.  For more information on these laws CLICK HERE.

In addition to the state laws protecting archaeological sites, the forest practices rules (WAC 222-20-120) require DNR to notify tribes in Washington of forest practices applications that have been submitted in areas where one or more tribes have identified an interest. 

If a cultural resource is present within the boundaries of the FPA/N, the landowner is required to contact the tribe and set up a meeting.  The objective of the meeting between the landowner and tribe(s) is for the parties to agree on a plan to protect the cultural resource(s).

The reason for this is that some locations, objects or plants have traditional and/or cultural meaning to Native American peoples that are private.   WAC 222-20-120 was designed to help provide the tribal representative with a timely opportunity to discuss the issues with the landowner in private.

Landowner-Tribal Meeting – What to Expect 

After submitting a Forest Practices Application, DNR may notify you that your harvest area has a cultural resource, and/or an archaeological site.  In this case, you are required to meet with the tribe with the objective of agreeing upon a plan to protect the cultural resource refered to as a "Protection Plan" or "Management Plan".  If an archaeological site is present, agreement on a plan is required.

Setting Up A Meeting

If your forest practices activity is in an area that more than one tribe is interested in, you will have to meet with more than one tribal government.  DNR staff will inform you which tribes you need to contact.

The meeting will occur at the tribe’s discretion.  The meeting may take place on site, in an office, in another agreeable location, or via telephone or email.

The tribes have the option of deciding not to meet with you.  If this happens, you don’t have to do anything else.  If there is more than one Tribe, you will still need to meet with the other tribe(s).  Keep a record of your attempts to meet.  You do need to be able to demonstrate that you made a good faith effort to contact the tribes.  Meeting the intent of the rule depends on both parties showing respect to each other and each other’s needs and objectives. This means that each party will make a good faith effort to reach agreement.

During The Meeting

During the meeting the tribe may identify the kind(s) of cultural or archaeological resources that are in the forest practices application area.  The information may be very general depending on the sensitivity of the resource.  The tribe may only reveal that there is a sacred, spiritual or legendary site and then only identify the general location.  In other cases they may identify the specific location and kind of site, such as a tribal homestead or a historic trail.  Sometimes the exact location and boundaries are not completely known, and the proposal will be a plan to identify the exact location and boundaries of the resource, so that appropriate protection measures can be determined.

You can expect the tribe to propose protection measures for the resource(s) identified. The tribe’s proposal should seek to minimize the impacts on your forestry objectives, while adequately protecting the resources. If the proposal is not acceptable to you, you can counter with a proposal that protects the resource while meeting your forest management objectives.

Special Rules For Archaeological Sites

Archaeological sites can be different than “cultural resources”.  If an archaeological site recorded with the DAHP is identified in your harvest area, you are still required to meet with the tribe(s).  You are not required to meet with DAHP, but you are required to develop a protection plan that will protect the archaeological site. The tribe must agree on this plan, and DAHP must also agree to the plan.  If a protection plan cannot be agreed upon, a permit from DAHP is required. 

Tips for Completing a Successful Site Protection Plan

Archaeological Site Protections Plans are required any time a forest practices application will have an effect on an archaeological site.  Anytime you need to alter, excavate into, or otherwise affect an archaeological site during a Forest Practice, you are required to obtain an archaeological excavation permit.  This includes Native American archaeological sites and historical period archaeological sites, such as pioneer homesteads, logging camps, and linear sites such as railroad grades and ditches.   It includes sites on both public and private lands. 

The types of activities that can damage an archaeological site include, but are not limited to:

  • any ground disturbance or earth moving activities
  • heavy equipment on the site
  • skidding trees through a site
  • pulling stumps in an archaeological site
  • building a road through a site
  • driving on an archaeological site
  • placing riprap or fill on a site

Obtaining an excavation permit takes about 45-60 days, and requires the assistance of a professional archaeologist.

However, if you wish to avoid this requirement, you have the option of demonstrating that you can conduct your harvest activities in a way which will not cause any changes or damages to the archaeological site.   The way to do this is through an Archaeological Site Protection Plan.  Archaeological Site Protection Plans are written documents that state what you will do to protect the site from any impacts during forest practices activities.

You will write your protection plan and submit it to DAHP and the affected Tribes for their review and concurrence.  In order to facilitate approval of your Plan, please include specific actions that will be taken to insure the archaeological site will not sustain impacts, damages, or changes. 

Tips to aid you in writing your Protection Plan:

  1. The most direct way to prevent damage to an archaeological site is to change the boundaries of your harvest area to remove the archaeological site from it.  Flag the site, place a buffer around it and avoid the site.
  2. Be specific about how you will avoid impacts; for example say “stumps will not be ground or removed; trees will be cut at ground level.”
  3. Keep heavy equipment off of the site.  Use existing roads.
  4. Fall trees away from the site.
  5. Skid trees away from the site.
  6. Cut and lift trees out of the site.
  7. If the site is a linear site, such as a railroad grade, or a trail, consider minimizing the number of times you cross the site: use existing crossings, and fell trees away from the site.
  8. If the boundaries of the archaeological site are not clearly defined, it will be difficult to implement avoidance protection measures, because you will not know how big of an area to avoid.  In this case, you may need an archaeologist to define the site boundaries for you.
  9. You are encouraged to have your plan written by a professional archaeologist.
  10. Your plan will describe the commitments you are willing to make to protect the archaeological site
  11. You may need to have a professional archaeologist monitor the harvest activities to insure no resources are harmed during the harvest activities. 
  12. Last but not least, be sure to include “Inadvertent Discovery Measures.”  These are the steps you will follow if you accidentally find artifacts or human remains.  See “What do I do if I’ve found Human Remains?” for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find out if there are any known cultural resources on my property?

Contact the following:

Will someone come out to my property to help identify the cultural resources?

Contact the DNR region office where your forest land is located and ask for assistance.  DAHP or the local Tribe may assist private landowners with identification.

How do I find out which local Tribal government I should contact?

Contact the DNR region office where your forest land is located. You can also find information (directory and maps) on the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs website at

If cultural resources are found on or adjacent to my forest practices activity does that mean I can’t harvest my timber or build any roads?

Not necessarily. It will depend upon what the cultural resource is and its location in relationship to your forest practices activity, and whether your activity will disturb the cultural resource.

Do I have to protect cultural resources on my property if they are not listed with DAHP or are of concern to the affected Indian Tribe?

Yes, federal, state, or local government laws or rules require protection.

What do I do if I find cultural resources after starting my forest practices activity?

Stop the activity and contact your local DNR region office and DAHP for assistance.