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Comparing the Value of Leave-Tree Buffers with a Forest Excise Tax Credit in Washington State

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In 1999, the Washington State legislature was preparing to pass the “Forest and Fish” Bill that would implement more restrictive forest practice rules. To help offset the compliance costs of this bill, stakeholders wanted a credit on the forest excise tax for harvests impacted by the new requirements. However, there was no agreed-on estimate of just how much value was being left under current forest practice rules, much less for the proposed rules, making it difficult to determine an adequate tax credit amount. Although the legislature ultimately passed the bill along with a 16% forest excise tax credit, concerns over the credit amount led the legislature to mandate a study examining the value of leave-tree buffers compared with tax credit amounts on harvest units impacted by the new rules. As a result of this directive, the Department of Revenue implemented a 2-year study identifying 1,325 logging permits that received the tax credit and had completed harvests. Of those permits, 115 had their leave-tree buffers cruised to determine buffer value relative to tax credit amount. The results were stratified by harvest units on either side of the Cascade Crest and those belonging to small harvesters. Although there were individual cases where the tax credit exceeded the leave-tree value, overall leave-tree values for the different strata were between 5 and 23 times greater than total tax credit amounts. West. J. Appl. For. 19(3):165–170.

Keywords: Riparian management zones; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest practice rules; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; natural resource management; natural resources; tax credit; timber appraisal

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: Washington State Department of Revenue, Forest Tax Program PO Box 47472 Olympia WA 98504-7472 Phone: (360) 570-3206;, Fax: (360) 664-8438, Email:

Publication date: 2004-07-01

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Western Journal of Applied Forestry covers the western United States, including Alaska, and western Canada; WJAF will also consider manuscripts reporting research in northern Mexico that has potential application in the southwestern United States.
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