The background of state forest practice legislation and its impact upon forest land use and management

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Five states were chosen for the study: New York, Massachusetts, California, Oregon and Washington. The author visited each of the five states and Washington, D.C. in 1976 to collect writings, published and informal, and to interview persons concerning the historical background and implementation of the states' forest practice acts.

The changing national attitudes toward the use and abuse of forest resources was traced as historical background. For each state, the political forces involved with forests were examined to determine how they contributed to the development and current form of the forest practice act. The purposes for which the states' acts were passed were analyzed. Available information on costs and benefits were included to illustrate what a state might expect if it decides such a program is desirable. Criteria were developed for evaluating the success of a state's forest practice act. A list of apparently successful features of selected administrative and regulatory systems was included to illustrate what form a model forest practice act might take.

The criteria for success that were developed are: (1) improvement in existing conditions; (2) financial impacts on the timber operator, forest landowner and the state; and (3) the administrative development of regulations. Successful administrative and enforcement systems were: (1) part-time, independent forest practice boards promulgating regulations based on legislative policy; (2) single agency enforcement; (3) classification of forest practices according to their potential for environmental damage; and (4) a priority inspection system.