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Washington Department of Natural Resources

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages over 5 million acres of forest, agricultural, aquatic, and other state trust lands; natural area preserves; natural resource conservation areas; and recreational sites. The agency provides wildfire protection, oversees forestry activities, and monitors forest health conditions on 12 million acres of state and private lands. It also serves as the state’s geology agency.

DNR provides urban forestry assistance to communities and forest stewardship assistance to non-industrial private landowners. DNR staff can provide technical assistance on leases of state-owned aquatic lands, and staff can confer with landowners on issues such as contaminated sediment clean-up and disposal, near-shore habitat inventories, and harbor area planning. Programs include:

Family Forest Fish Passage Program

The Family Forest Fish Passage Program provides financial and technical assistance to rural landowners who have fish barriers on their forestland. It provides 75%-100% of the cost of fixing fish barriers on qualifying lands. To qualify for the program a landowner must harvest less than two million board feet of timber per year, the project must be on forestland and on a fish-bearing stream, and the project must be associated with a forest road.

Eligible activities include: removing, repairing or replacing artificial in-stream structures such as culverts, dams, weirs, spillways, etc.; assessing in-stream structures to confirm they are fish barriers; technical assistance with determining appropriate fish passage structures.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and the Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) jointly manage the program. 

Forest Riparian Easement Program (FREP)

Administered by DNR’s Small Forest Landowner Office, the Forest Riparian Easement Program (FREP) compensates small forest landowners for unharvested timber along riparian corridors by offering the purchase of a 50 year easement. This is timber the landowner is required to leave standing as a result of forest practice rules protecting Washington’s forest and fish.

There are two purposes of the easement: to help small forest landowners keep their land in forestry and remain economically viable, and to protect the qualifying timber and its associated riparian function.  

Partnerships with U.S. Forest Service

Washington Department of Natural Resources works in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to administer the Forest Legacy Program (FLP), the Forest Land Enhancement Program (FLEP), and the Forest Stewardship Program. 

Riparian Open Space Program

Riparian Open Space Program grants offer private landowners the option of donation or compensation for timber lands within unconfined avulsing channel migration zones. The lands addressed by this program are essentially islands of timber within rivers or streams. This program was authorized by RCW 76.09.040.

The Riparian Open Space Program helps provide ecological protection and fisheries enhancement while compensating landowners prohibited under state Forests & Fish rules from harvesting timber on riparian land isolated by river channels that have migrated over time.

Willing landowners can apply to donate or sell the land itself or a permanent conservation easement covering the trees or land to the DNR. These forest lands are to remain unharvested due to forest practice regulations established to protect riparian zones for their habitat and water quality value to the people of the state. 

Washington Forest Stewardship Program

The Forest Stewardship Program is a nationwide program designed to assist non-industrial private forest landowners in managing their properties for a variety of resource values. The Forest Stewardship Program offers advice and assistance to landowners with over 5 acres to help improve forests for timber production, forest health, wildlife and fish habitat, special forest products, water quality, aesthetics, and fire safety. Advice is customized to meet the landowner’s personal objectives.

The program is funded by the USDA Forest Service and delivered by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources in close cooperation with several other state and federal agencies and private organizations.

In Washington State, the program offers: free on-site forest management advice from a Stewardship Forester and/or Wildlife Biologist; Forest Stewardship Planning Courses that assist landowners with developing and implementing Forest Stewardship Plans; cost-share programs that provide financial assistance for accomplishing forest stewardship projects; “Stewardship Forest” recognition sign for those who are actively implementing their Forest Stewardship Plan.

Stewardship foresters can also provide certification inspection for the American Tree Farm program. In addition, they offer educational programs, publications, and other materials in cooperation with Washington State University Extension and other agencies and organizations. Also, information on where to find tax assistance, consulting foresters, contractors, accredited loggers, forest nurseries, equipment suppliers, etc.  

Washington Register of Natural Areas

The Washington Register of Natural Areas is a voluntary landowner recognition program that targets priority species and ecosystems identified in the Washington Natural Heritage Plan. It is administered by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy.

Participating landowners receive a certificate from the Governor and the Commissioner of Public Lands. Participation in the Register program is non-binding; landowners can remove their property from the Register at any time.

Priority species or ecosystems, as identified in the Washington Natural Heritage Plan, must be present for property to be eligible. Landowners are encouraged to manage their lands in a manner consistent with maintaining the rare species and/ecosystems on their property.  

Washington Urban and Community Forestry Program

The purpose of the Washington Urban and Community Forestry Program is to educate citizens and decision-makers about the economic, environmental, psychological, and aesthetic benefits of trees. It also works to assist local governments, citizen groups, and volunteers in planting and sustaining healthy trees and vegetation. The program receives assistance from the U.S. Forest Service.


Fish barrier: Any artificial (human-caused) in-stream structures that impede the free passage of fish, such as culverts, dams, weirs, spillways.

Riparian function: This includes stabilizing the stream bank, trapping sediment, shading the water, and leaf litter and large woody debris.

Unconfined avulsing channel migration zone (CMZ): The area within which the active channel of an unconfined stream is prone to move, and where the movement would result in a potential near-term loss of riparian forest.

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