Grays Harbor County Code Title 14 is intended to carry out the provisions of the Washington State Forest Practices Act, RCW 76.09, as currently in force, or as hereafter may be amended, to ensure that conversion of forest land is consistent with county development regulations, and to protect public resources.

Grays Harbor has partnered with the Department of Natural Resources to assistant landowners with the following forestry related activities:

  1. Six-year Development Moratoriums
  2. SEPA Threshold Determinations for Class IV General Conversion Forest Practice Permits
  3. Conversion Option Harvest Plans (COHP)
DNR offers resources through the Landowner Assistance Portal and provides free technical assistance and financial incentives to promote forest health, economic viability, wildfire resilience, and educated and active management. To enquire further about DNR requirements and resources, please direct questions to DNR Olympic Region Forest Practices, by email at, or by phone at (360) 374-2800.

Code and Regulations

Why do we have forest practices rules?
In 1974 the Washington State legislature wrote the Forest Practices Act (Chapter 76.09 RCW).  This act was designed to protect water quality, provide fish and wildlife habitat, protect capital improvements and to ensure that harvested areas are reforested.  The act defines a plan to protect public resources while assuring the state continues to be a productive timber growing area.

While DNR regulates most timber harvesting activities through the Forest Practices Act (WAC 222), local governments have the authority to exercise jurisdiction over certain timber harvest activities to aid in consistency with the local critical area ordinance and other applicable county codes.

A Forest Practices Application is required for the removal of trees from parcels over 2 acres in size.
The FPA (Forest Practices Act) requires a six-year (6) development moratorium on land where timber has been harvested beginning from the date of forest practice approval by DNR.  The landowner has the following options:  

(Option 1) Class IV Forest - General Conversion Permits are required by DNR for forest practices on lands that have been or will be converted to another non-forestry use such as residential.

(Option 2Conversion Option Harvest Plan (COHP). In December 2023, DNR informed GHC that COHPs are not limited to growth management areas and are allowed in rural areas of Grays Harbor.  The COHP option is less expensive and an easier alternative to a Class IV-General Forest Practices Permit or 6-year development moratorium as required by DNR.  The intent of the COHP is to educate owners and to ensure timber harvests occur in a manner that is consistent with critical area buffer requirements as required by GHCC 18.06.

COHPs are voluntary timber harvesting plans that are developed by the landowner or landowner representative. The plan must be approved by the County and must comply with Grays Harbor County code (i.e. critical areas).  The approved COHP should be submitted to DNR as part of a Class II or III Forest Practices Application (FPA); and the six-year (6) development moratorium would be waived.  

(Option 3) Moratorium rescission.  Timber harvested prior to FPA permit approval or under an approved DNR FPA Class I, II, or III Permit is subject to a six-year development moratorium.  A development moratorium may be rescinded under certain circumstances along with critical area and/or buffer mitigation conditions as necessary per GHCC 14.03 and 18.06.  

Helpful Resources:

Still have questions?

Please contact the Planning Division.

Grays Harbor County
Planning Division
updated 12-4-2023