Chapter 84.33 of the Revised Code of Washington provides that land of 20 or more contiguous acres primarily devoted to and used for growing and harvesting timber, may be assessed, for purposes of property tax collection, based on the current use of the land. However, if there is a residence on the parcel, a minimum one-acre building site is excluded from the classification. Parcels of land less than 20 acres may be eligible for the Open Space Timber Classification Program.


The Washington State Department of Revenue annually provides the Assessor with a schedule of per-acre values, by “land grade”. Land grades are a composite of soil type of utility. The Assessor determines the land grades of the subject property by referring to land grade maps provided by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. These per acre values are what the Assessor uses to value each parcel within the Designated Forest Land classification for purposes of taxation.


Applications may be obtained from and filed with the Grays Harbor County Assessor by December 31st. A site plan is required as is a forest management plan which provides a detailed description of the property, the timber on the property, and a schedule for growing and harvesting the timber.

The application must be signed by the legal owner of record and a $100 fee is due upon submission of the application.

Application will not be approved for property:

  • Located within 200 feet of salt water.
  • That does not have a merchantable stand of timber or adequate stocking.

If approved, the property will be assessed as “Designated Forest Land” the year following the submission of the application and would apply to taxes payable the year following the assessment change. For example, an application received before December 31, 2007 would be processed for the 2008 assessment rolls, which is the basis for taxes payable in 2009.


Application for classification as Designated Forest Land must include a timber management plan. The plan should describe the current status of the property and how it will be managed, and should include a growth stimulus program as well as a planned harvest program. A 10 year management schedule for fertilization, brush control, commercial thinning, harvest (clear cutting and/or selective logging), and replanting (including site preparation, spacing, and amount per acre) must also be included.

A site plan must be provided which illustrates topography, access, location of various timber types, harvest schedule, and all buildings on the property. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources or a professional forest consultant can provide assistance with the plans.

The Washington State Department of Revenue publication Guidelines for Forest Land Management Plans also provides useful information for the development of a timber management plan.


The Assessor shall remove land from Forest Land Designation when any of the following occur:



The owner submits a written request to remove designation.



The land is sold or transferred to an ownership making it exempt from ad valorem taxation.



All or a portion of the land is transferred to a new owner, unless the new owner has signed a Notice of Continuance. (Compensating taxes are then due and payable by the seller at the time of the sale.)



The Assessor determines, after giving the owner written notice and an opportunity to be heard, that the land is no longer primarily used for and devoted to growing and harvesting timber; the owner has failed to comply with a final order with respect to a violation of the provisions of Title 76 of the Revised Code of Washington; or restocking has not occurred to the extent or within the time specified in the application for designation.

Removal of designation for the first three reasons above will apply only to the land affected, provided that any remaining land meets the definition of forest land in the Revised Code of Washington 84.33.100.


Within 30 days after the land has been removed from designation of forest land, the Assessor will notify the owner in writing, setting forth the reason for removal. The seller, transferor, or owner may appeal the removal to the County Board of Equalization.

Except in the case of item number 3 above, the compensating tax is due and payable to the Grays Harbor County Treasurer 30 days after the owner is notified of the amount. The compensating tax due is the difference between the amount of tax last levied on the land under the designation and the amount of the new assessed valuation, multiplied by the dollar rate that was last levied against the land, multiplied by the number of years (not to exceed 10) that the land was designated as forest land.

Compensating tax is not imposed if the removal of designation resulted solely from:



Transfer to a government entity in exchange for other forest land within the state.



A taking of the land through the exercise of the power of eminent domain, or sale, or transfer to an entity having the power of eminent domain in anticipation of the exercise of such power.



A donation of fee title, development rights, or the right to harvest timber to a government agency or qualified organization, or the sale or transfer of fee title to a government entity or nonprofit nature conservancy corporation, exclusively for the protection and conservation of lands recommended for State Natural Area Preserve purposes by the Natural Heritage Council. When the land is no longer used for these purposes, the compensating tax will be imposed upon the current owner.



The sale or transfer of a fee title to the Parks and Recreation Commission for park and recreation purposes.

Within 30 days of the Notice of Removal (form 620047), the land owner may apply for classification as Open Space Land, Farm and Agricultural land or Timber Land. No compensating tax would be due until the application is denied, or, if approved, the property is later removed from Open Space classification under the Revised Code of Washington 84.34.108.


An appeal of new assessed valuation or removal of classification or designation must be filed with the Grays Harbor County Board of Equalization on or before July 1st or within 30 days of the Notice of Removal or Change of Valuation, whichever is later.

Contact the Washington State Department of Natural Resources Office in your area or the Grays Harbor County Extension Office.



Land may be reclassified, upon request by the owner, subject to all applicable qualifications for each classification, without additional tax, interest, or penalties for the following:

Land classified as farm and agricultural land may be reclassified to timber land; timber land may be reclassified to farm and agricultural land.

Land classified as either farm and agricultural, timber land, or forest land under Chapter 84.33 RCW may be reclassified to open space land.

Land classified as farm and agricultural land or timber land may be reclassified to forest land under Chapter 84.33 RCW.

Land previously classified as farm and agricultural land may be reclassified to open space land as “farm and agricultural conservation land” and subsequently be reclassified back to farm and agricultural land.

The application for transfer from designated forest land to a current use classification must be made within 30 days from the date of removal from forest land status.

RECLASSIFICATION APPROVALS are acted on in the same manner as approvals for classification. The Assessor approves all applications for farm and agricultural classifications and reclassifications. The County Commissioners approves all land classifications or reclassifications for timber land or open space land. Land of less than 20 acres being reclassified into farm and agricultural land classifications from open space “farm and agricultural conservation land”, timber land, or forest land may have the income requirements deferred for a period of up to five years from the date of the reclassification.


  • Complete information concerning the requirements and the manner for making application for current use reclassification and assessments is available at the Grays Harbor County Assessor’s Office.
  • It is helpful to read the Revised Code of Washington, Chapter 84.33, and the Washington Administrative Code, Chapter 458-30to understand requirements of the classifications and the tax liabilities incurred.
  • Publications concerning the open space law are also available through the Grays Harbor County extension agent.