Washington Law Review


Private landowners in Washington have been required to reforest land after logging since 1945. The Washington Forest Practices Act of 1974 and its predecessor have primarily affected the state's timber industry, which has long been familiar with the reforestation requirement. Many nonindustrial forest landowners, however, are unaware of the requirements of the 1974 Act. The 1974 Act requires that any owner of forest land who removes the trees for any reason, whether to log one hundred acres for income or to clear one acre for a homesite, must satisfy the reforestation requirements of the Act. Part I of this comment explains the requirements for satisfactory reforestation, the exceptions to those requirements, and how the obligation to reforest is enforced. Part II discusses a case recently before the Forest Practices Appeals Board to illustrate a current issue in enforcing the law and to illustrate a problem created by the effects of that enforcement. The enforcement issue is whether persons who acquire land that needs to be reforested are obligated to reforest the land. This comment concludes that they are obligated to reforest. The resulting problem is that persons who acquire land that needs to be reforested may be unaware of that requirement, and thus unable to allocate fairly the costs of reforestation in their transaction to acquire the land. One solution to the problem is amending the Act to improve the notice of the obligation to reforest that purchasers of land receive. Part III suggests criteria for evaluating legislative proposals requiring improved notice to subsequent landowners and concludes that sellers of forest land should be required to give purchasers actual notice of the obligation to reforest.

First Page