Forest Practice

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) enforces the laws that regulate logging on privately-owned lands in California. Forest Practice Act which was enacted in 1973 to ensure that logging is done in a manner that will preserve and protect our fish, wildlife, forests and streams. Additional rules enacted by the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection are also enforced 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 shutdown operations, cite or fine Registered Professional Foresters, Licensed Timber Operators (LTOs), and landowners if illegal operations are found.

What's New

Post-Fire Recovery Exemption

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 under

Utility Contact List - Timber Harvesting Plan (THP) Submittal

The Board of Forestry and Fire Protection developed Forest Practice Rules to identify one (1) appropriate contact to be notified or consulted during preparation and review of THPs. The Department shall maintain this list utilizing information and advice provided by utilities. The list shall be posted on the Department's internet site to make it readily available to RPFs and others needing the list to comply with these rules. The list shall also be available by mail through written request to the applicable CAL FIRE Review Team Offices. The utility shall be responsible for providing accurate contact information. If new contact information is provided to CAF FIRE in the future, any updated information will reflect a new revision date, so users of the list may identify which version of the list they are using.

Utility Contact List

CalTREES - Electronic Harvest Document Submission

The California Natural Resources Agency and CAL FIRE are in the early stages of developing an on-line system for the submission and review of timber harvesting documents (e.g., Exemptions, THPs) to be called CalTREES.  On January 23, 2017, we held two public workshops to present information on CalTREES, answer questions, and take comments. The morning workshop targeted those who prepare and submit harvesting documents, and the afternoon workshop targeted the general public.  The workshop slide presentation provides an overview of who is leading the development of CalTREES, why we are developing it, the vision and goals for the project, and the development schedule.
Both workshops were webcast and recorded. Here are the links to the recordings:

Gathering public input will be important to ensure that we develop a high quality, user-friendly product.  If you are interested in playing an active role during the development process, please let us know via an email to

Is A Permit Needed to Remove Dead Trees?

Download this brochure to learn about permit options and requirements. Download

Timber Harvesting Operations Pursuant to Governor Brown's Executive Order B-33-15

Landowners impacted by fires in Amador, Calaveras, Lake and Trinity counties have asked how to remove trees from their property when necessary for restoration and rehabilitation of their land when such removal is necessary for expediting cleanup of debris from the fires and for implementing any restoration plan. An important consideration here is whether the removed trees are to be used for "commercial purposes", as defined in the Forest Practice Act (ref. PRC § 4527(a)(2)).

New Drought Mortality Exemption
July 30, 2015
On June 17, 2015, the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection adopted emergency regulations allowing specified forest management activities, including the cutting or removal of trees that are dead or dying as a result of the drought conditions across California.  The new rules were adopted under 14 CCR § 1038 (k) and became effective on July 13, 2015.  Areas to be treated that are larger than 20 acres cumulatively across an ownership require a Registered Professional Forester (RPF) to prepare, sign, and submit a new exemption form* to CAL FIRE.  Areas less than 20 acres do not require an RPF, but can be submitted by the timberland owner, timber owner, Licensed Timber Operator or an RPF on the new form*.

New Structure Protection Exemption
July 28, 2015
On May 13, 2015, the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection adopted emergency regulations allowing specified forest management activities, including the cutting or removal of trees between 150’ and 300’ of an Approved and Legally Permitted Habitable Structure.  The previous exemption form requirements for “Removal of Fire hazard Trees Within 150 Feet of a Structure Exemption” pursuant to 14 CCR § 1038(c), have been combined with the new language of 14 CCR § 1038(c)(6) into one new exemption form.  The new language allows for the removal of trees between 150’ and 300’ of a Habitable Structure that complies with the California Building Code for the purpose of reducing flammable materials and maintaining a fuelbreak.  A Registered Professional Forester (RPF) must prepare, sign, and submit the new form to CAL FIRE when trees will be removed between 150’ and 300’ of Habitable Structures.

Humboldt Marten Status Update
July 31, 2015
On June 8, 2015, the California Fish and Game Commission received a petition from EPIC and CBD to list the Humboldt marten (Martes caurina humboldtensis) as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will conduct a 90-day status review of the species. The Commission anticipates receiving the report by the October 2015 meeting whereby the Commission will consider CDFW’s report and recommendation along with the petition and will likely make a determination regarding candidacy at the December meeting.

Important Information on Humboldt Marten and Timber Operations

On January 12, 2012, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) found a petition to list the Humboldt marten (Martes americana humboldtensis) under the Endangered Species Act in coastal northern California presents substantial information indicating that listing may be warranted. While USFWS conducts its status review of the species, anyone conducting timber operations within the range of the Humboldt marten should go to the following link and look at the documents posted under Humboldt marten for important information:
CAL FIRE Forest Practice Memorandums

Gray Wolves (Canis lupus) in California Timber Harvesting Plans
May 6, 2015
The gray wolf (Canis lupus) was listed as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) by the California Fish and Game Commission on June 4, 2014. Given that gray wolves have been reestablished in southern Oregon, they may begin to become reestablished on public and private timberlands in northern California.  For purposes of timber harvesting plan preparation, the gray wolf listing under CESA should be acknowledged in the THP.  Furthermore, consultation with CDFW is recommended when presence of wolves is known or wolf den and/or rendezvous sites have been identified.  Further information can be found on the CAL FIRE webpage at:

New Timber Harvesting Plan Form - RM-63 (03/15)

The THP form has been revised as a result of changes to the rules, including the new "Road Rules", which are now in effect as of January, 2015. Changes are reflected in the content of the 38 Items listed in Sections I and II of the form. There has been no reorganization of the Item numbers themselves. The revisions and additions address rules that, when applicable, are required to be addressed in the plan. In addition, the THP form has been updated and revised for clarity and ease of use. Comments related to the contents and use of new form should be directed to Bill Solinsky (

The check boxes incorporated in the form can be "checked" by clicking on the box, if your computer software allows. Otherwise, you may mark the box as you have in the past. The form also includes various colored "fonts" to assist you in identifying which questions apply, relative to the watershed(s) the plan is located in:

  • Information and questions in "Black" apply to all plans.
  • Information and questions in "Red" apply to plans in Non ASP and exempt ASP watersheds.
  • Information and questions in "Blue" apply to plans in ASP Watersheds &/or Immediately upstream.
  • Rule citations will be found in "black" if they are incorporated as part of a question.
  • Rule citations in "green" are identified to assist plan preparers in locating the pertinent rule.

The new THP form can be found at the following link, located on the Department 's website:

Important information on the Sierra Nevada mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana sierrae) and the northern distinct population segment of the mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa)

On April 29, 2014 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) published the final rule listing the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog and the northern distinct population segment (DPS) of the mountain yellow-legged frog as endangered; the final rule becomes effective on June 30, 2014. Guidance for RPFs and LTOs to follow.

Current and historic range maps:

Final listing document:

REVISED ASP Q and A Document Available with Class II-L Changes

The document titled "Anadromous Salmonid Protections Rules: Revised Interpretive Questions and Answers for RPFs and Landowners" has been posted at the following: QA doc with revised language 06_16_14 (final revision).pdf This revision of the document that was produced in April of 2010 reflects changes made by the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection when they passed the "Class II-L Identification and Protection Amendments, 2013" rule package, which went into effect January 1, 2014.

A petition to list Townsend’s big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii) (COTO) as Threatened or Endangered under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) was received by the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) on November 1, 2012. On June 26, 2013, the Commission voted to designate COTO as a candidate for listing. Starting on the date it officially becomes a candidate, COTO will receive the same legal protections under CESA as a threatened or endangered species, including the general prohibition on “take” of such species. You may consider including an analysis and appropriate mitigation measures in your timber harvesting plan (THP) prior to the date it officially becomes a candidate in order to avoid amendments to your THP in the future.

The range of the COTO extends throughout the State. COTO primarily roosts in caves, mines, abandoned dwellings, and large basal hollows of trees. The Biological Impacts section of your proposed harvesting plan should include a discussion of COTO (life history, threats, available habitat and appropriate mitigation) if the proposed timber operations may result in a significant adverse impact, cumulative impact, or take, once the species candidacy is formally announced. Proposed avoidance and mitigation measures should be included under Section II, Item 32a of the Plan if appropriate.

For more information; the evaluation of the petition to list, a life history account, and a range map can be viewed by going to the following web site and searching for “Townsend’s big-eared bat”.

As an alternative to presenting information pertaining to map points in various places throughout timber harvesting documents, the following Map Point Reference Table and Key is a suggested framework for addressing map points in Timber Harvesting Plans (THPs), Nonindustrial Timber Management Plans (NTMPs), and Notices of Timber Operations (NTOs).

Developed in collaboration with various Regional Water Quality Control Boards, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Department of Conservation‐‐California Geological Survey; the table has been designed to eliminate the need to repeatedly provide the same information separately for THPs/NTMPs, Erosion Control Plans, and 1600 applications and can be used for all map points that are required to be identified and described (e.g. unstable areas, exceptions and in lieu points, watercourse crossings, mitigations sites, etc.).

The Table and Key have been prepared as an alternative tool, to assist registered professional
foresters who prepare plans; and can be found at the following link, located on the CAL FIRE’s

Important Information on Pacific Fisher and Timber Operations

On November 7, 2012, the California Fish and Game Commission, pursuant to Court Order, set aside its September 15, 2010 rejection of the petition to list the Pacific fisher (Martes pennanti) as threatened or endangered under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). This means that the Pacific fisher is a candidate species under CESA. Candidate species are protected against take per the Fish and Game Code. Anyone conducting timber operations within the range of the Pacific fisher should go to the following link and look at the documents posted under Pacific Fisher for important information:
CAL FIRE Forest Practice Memorandums

Timber Operations in Areas Substantially Damaged Due to Wildland Fires

Please see the following link for a letter to Registered Professional Foresters, Licensed Timber Operators, Review Team Agencies and the Interested Public regarding timber operations in areas substantially damaged due to wildland fires: downloads/Timber_Operations_in_Areas_

The link references an attached memorandum, which can be found at the following: downloads/Timber_Operations_in_Areas_

Non-industrial Timber Management Plans: Information for Registered Professional Foresters related to Water Quality and Cumulative Impacts

CAL FIRE has posted a memorandum, which is intended to provide clarification regarding the difference in noticing requirements described in the Forest Practice Act and Rules under PRC § 4594(g) and 14 CCR § 1090.7(h) and (i) for notices of timber operations under a non-industrial timber management plan, and how the cumulative impact assessment evaluation area melds with the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board's waste discharge requirements and waivers of waste discharge requirements when considering the beneficial uses of water ( Understanding this relationship is important to avoid confusion by registered professional foresters, the public, and review agency staff. The memo is found at: downloads/NTMP_Information_for_RPFs_

AB 1492, the Effective Period of Plans and Plan Extensions

Assembly Bill 1492 was signed by Governor Brown on September 11, 2012 and goes into effect immediately. One of its provisions changes portions of Public Resources Code § 4590 to create the following four categories of plans: More...

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