Gov signs working forest bill

Gov signs working forest bill
Governor Jay Inslee has signed a bill amending the state real estate disclosure law so that buyers acknowledge they are purchasing property next to a working forest that is protected from “nuisance lawsuits” under a 2013 state law. Photo: freepik.com

Governor Jay Inslee has signed HB 1011 into law notifying buyers that a piece of property is located next to a working forest. The bill was signed April 8 after the bill received unanimous approval from the House on Mar. 7 and then from the Senate on Mar. 29.

Prior to the Senate vote, Sen. Mark Mullet (D-5) explained the bill’s aim. “It’s super simple. If you buy a piece of real estate that’s next to a working forest, you are warned that you are buying real estate next to a working forest.”

Sponsored by Rep. Kristine Reeves (D-30), HB 1011 amends the state’s real estate disclosure law, explicitly stating that working forests are protected from “nuisance lawsuits” for engaging in “standard forest practices” under the 2013 Right to Farm Act, which also protects agricultural land.  The new disclosure will be included in property sales starting next year.

The bill reflects concerns among some forestry industry members as the state’s population increases, particularly near its land. Washington currently has 7.5 million residents, a 53-percent increase since 1990. In King County, where roughly 16 percent of all forestry jobs are located, the population has grown by 45 percent since 1990, from 1.5 million to 2.5 million.

As the second-largest timber producer in the nation, Washington’s 10.8 million acres of working forest compose 47 percent of all state forestland.

Prior to the Mar. 7 House vote, Reeves told colleagues that “the focus of this bill…is about how we find a balance between growth and new developments and ensuring that the iconic industry that we all know and love, that the working forests that feed families in our state and help our economy prosper continues for generations to come.”

 

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