Forest Practice

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) enforces the laws that regulate logging on privately-owned lands in California. The Forest Practice Act was enacted in 1973 to ensure that logging is done in a manner that will preserve and protect our fish, wildlife, forests and streams. The State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection enacts and enforces additional rules to protect these resources.

CAL FIRE ensures that private landowners abide by these laws when harvesting trees. Although there are specific exemptions in some cases, compliance with the Forest Practice Act and Board rules apply to all commercial harvesting operations for landowners of small parcels, to ranchers owning hundreds of acres, and large timber companies with thousands of acres.
The Timber Harvesting Plan (THP) is the environmental review documents submitted by landowners to CAL FIRE outlining what timber he or she wants to harvest, how it will be harvested, and the steps that will be taken to prevent damage to the environment. THPs are prepared by Registered Professional Foresters (RPFs) who are licensed to prepare these comprehensive, detailed plans. THPs can range from about 100 pages to more than 500 pages.

CAL FIRE does not have the authority to deny a THP that is in compliance with state and federal rules and laws, simply because the logging plan is unpopular with the public. The Department reviews and approves between 500 to 1400 THPs each year. A THP that does not comply with all forestry and environmental regulations is returned to the RPF. It is only approved after the RPF and landowner agree to make the changes necessary to ensure compliance with all laws. CAL FIRE follows-up on approved THPs with site inspections and can shut down operations, cite or fine RPFs, Licensed Timber Operators (LTOs), and landowners if illegal operations are found.

What's New

  • State Timber Harvest Review Team staff have begun using the California Timber Regulation and Environmental Evaluation System, CalTREES. Review Team staff are able to view timber harvesting documents online, via CalTREES, to facilitate faster and easier collaborative reviews. Interested stakeholders may also now use the CalTREES search and review features.
    For additional information, please visit our new CalTREES Information Portal.

Post-Fire Timber Salvage Information

Wildfires this year have had an unprecedented impact on our lives, our property and our forest resources. As we recover from these wildfires; landowners, Registered Professional Foresters, Licensed Timber Operators and other private and government resource professionals will be heavily relied upon to assist in remediation, mitigation, and restoration of wildfire impacted forested landscapes. Landowners should be aware of the availability of these resources professionals, as well as the requirements that apply to timber operations; particularly when those operations are conducted in sensitive environmental settings such as post-wildfire conditions.

To promote compliance with the Forest Practice Rules and other rules and regulations that apply to harvesting under fire emergency notices, landowners may wish to consult with a local CAL FIRE Forester and other local representatives from agencies such as the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Regional Water Quality Control Boards to understand applicable legal obligations. To assist landowners, we are providing a two-page informational document at the link below meant to make you aware of other regulations and permitting that apply if you have decided to conduct post-fire timber salvage activities on your property and to help you avoid impacts to water quality, fish, wildlife, and native plants, and the habitats upon which these species depend.

Emergency Agency Information

The Board of Forestry and Fire Protection has adopted emergency regulations entitled "Emergency Rulemaking to Facilitate Post-Fire Recovery Efforts within Counties of Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino", which became effective on January 25, 2018. The new exemption form Post-Fire Recovery (1/31/18) is located at the Timber Harvesting Forms.

The revision of the Anadromous Salmonid Protections Rules: Revised Interpretive Questions and Answers for RPFs and Landowners that was proudced in April 2010 reflects changes made by the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection when they passed the "Class II-L Identification an dProtection Amendments, 2013" rule package, which went into effect January 1, 2014.

Forest Practice Open Data Hub

GIS data, links to the Forest Practice Watershed Mapper and CalTREES, and the ability to visualize and download data are now available through CAL FIRE’s Open Data Hub and the Forest Practice initiative.