If you own property (residential or raw land) that has trees then you may be eligible for a reduction in your tax rate. Washington’s Timber Land and Designated Forest Land tax classifications reduce taxable land values for landowners whose lands are “primarily used for the growing and harvesting of timber”. These designations allow the land to be valued on forest use rather than on the land’s highest and best use. If you are a tree hugger and never intend to harvest trees from your property then this program is not for you
A Timber Management Plan is required when applying for these designations and/or when a sale triggers the audit and the new buyer wants to continue such use and designation. The assessor may also require a timber management plan and/or removal from the program if they believe that the property is no longer primarily devoted to growing and harvesting timber.
A Timber Management Plan should be prepared by a professional forester or a person with adequate knowledge of timber management practices and knowledge of the requirements. A type written plan must include certain elements to be acceptable to the county. Some of these elements include information on forest health, wildfire hazard reduction, invasive species, soil types and erosion, property access (roads, trails), wildlife and protected species. It would also include description of species, size, age, condition and your plan for harvesting, thinning, etc.
If you are selling soon and want to get ahead of the game you could be proactive and contact the county to see what you would need to do to refresh your current plan or to create a new plan that would allow the new buyer to simply sign a continuance document prior to closing. Otherwise they would have to pay money out of pocket to create a plan before they have even closed on the property. This may create a barrier for your sale that might be overwhelming for a novice land owner.
The county has a list of professional foresters who have completed management plans in the past, complete with contact information. The cost varies between foresters and varies by difficulty of the job, but generally falls in the $400 - $1,000 range unless the project is more complex than a normal 5-20 acre parcel. A timber management plan for tax designation purposes is not to be confused with the variety of stewardship plans that require the landowner to be accountable on a more intense basis with DNR representatives.