Large Landowners Recognized For Reopening 5,200 Miles of Fish Habitat

Map via Washington Forest Protection Association.

Washington state officials have recognized over a dozen large landowners, including the timberland firm Weyerhaeuser, for their investment in correcting nearly 8,500 fish passage barriers and reopening 5,200 miles of fish habitat since 2001.

The landowners all completed their obligations under the Washington Road Maintenance and Abandonment Plan (RMAP) to protect clean water for people and fish alike, the state Department of Natural Resources announced in mid-August.

DNR works with the Washington departments of Ecology and Fish and Wildlife to administer the program, established in 2001, to minimize or eliminate sediment delivery to streams and rivers, correct fish barriers and keep ditch water out of streams.

Efforts of these large landowners have also resulted in some 31,000 miles of forest roads being brought up to current forest practices standards and another 4,000 miles of roads being abandoned.

Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz said improvements made through RMAP represent one of the greatest successes of Washington’s Forest Practices Rules.

“Thanks to the collective work of the state, tribes, and landowners over a span of twenty years, we have made massive strides to protect clean water and crucial fish habitats for future generations,” Franz said.

The commissioner also acknowledged the role of DNR’s Forest Practices staff, Ecology and WDFW staff, and tribal biologists who made the RMAP program’s historic successes possible.

Under the RMAP program, large landowners were required to bring all roads constructed between 1976 and 2001 up to current forest practices standards. Originally, the program had a 2016 deadline for completion by large landowners. However, in 2011, the Board allowed for a five-year extension due to the economic impacts of the Great Recession.

The Forest Practices Board, an independent state agency, was established by the 1974 Forest Practices Act. The board adopts Forest Practices Rules that are implemented by DNR’s Forest Regulation program, protecting water quality and wildlife habitat while maintaining a viable wood products industry in Washington state.