What is a Timber Management Plan?

A Timber Management Plan is required when applying for Timber Land tax status.  The intent of Timber Land (RCW 84.34) is to encourage landowners to retain or increase the acreage of property in forestry by reducing the land values. The concept of current use property taxation is to assess property tax based on the lands current use value rather than the highest and best use market values of similar property. The majority of the property tax burden on Forest Land and Timber Land is shifted to an excise tax on the stumpage value at the time of harvesting. The current use tax treatment remains in effect as long as the landowner maintains the use of the land primarily for growing and harvesting timber. Converting land to a non-forest use or failing to grow timber requires removal from the program and the payment of a compensation tax.

Timber Management Plan Guidlines

In many cases, the Timber Management Plan is prepared by a professional Forester, although a person with adequate knowledge of timber management practices may prepare a plan as long as it meets application criteria. The Timber Management Plan may include many different uses for the property but the statue requires that the management of the property be devoted primarily for growing and harvesting timber.

The Timber Management Plan should have an introduction stating the landowner’s intentions for managing their timber. The other resources associated with the property such as roads, streams, wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat should also be addressed. The Timber Management Plan is the main document in an agreement between the landowner and the county (taxpayers). The law provides that land qualified as Timber Land will be taxed at a forest land value (current use).

The Timber Management Plan should contain the following essential elements:

  1. A statement of the goals and objectives for managing the property.
  2. An aerial photo or quality copy of a photo or a map showing the property lines, roads, building or other physical features on the property.
  3. An overlay of the photo or map identifying the timber types according to the management needs.
  4. An overlay of a photo or map identifying important qualities such as streams, wetlands, critical fish or wildlife habitat, unstable soil, etc.
  5. A plan of how to deal with required and/or desired environmental protection.
  6. A plan telling what timber management treatment will be used and showing where they will be applied.

Using inventory and objectives for the land, plan the management activities. A stand by stand description of managing activity such as planting, pruning, pre-commercial thinning, brush control, etc. should be mapped in the plan. Environmental protection measures such as streamside and wetland protection, fish and wildlife protection or unstable soils should also be shown in the plan.

The Timber Management Plan should be upgraded with the county when the property or portion of the property changes ownership or when conditions change that may hinder the management of the property as forest/timber land.

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