Policy, Regulations & Planning
Though privately owned, forests are so important and valuable that society has instituted numerous laws and regulations controlling the manner in which private (and public) forest landowners can use and manage their forest. Even doing nothing to your forest has come under regulation because the threat of wildfire may be so great that mandatory fuel reduction treatment is warranted.
There are many laws and regulations, federal, state, and local (county) that affect what you can do with your forest and how you do it. Most of the laws and regulations are designed to protect public trust resources such as water (quality), air, soils, wildlife, while permitting uses of private property.
Timber harvesting on private land in California is regulated by the state Forest Practices Act and related federal and state clean water, clean air, endangered species laws. Permits must be obtained to commercially harvest timber, strictly controlling the timing and the manner of harvest operations, road maintenance, regeneration, fuels treatment, insect and disease management. Well drilling, pond development, burning, road and house construction may also be subject to regulation and permitting. For an overview of the laws and regulations pertaining to timber harvesting in California, please see the Forest Stewardship Series 19: Laws and Regulations Affecting Forests, Part I: Timber Harvesting.
For an overview of other activities that are regulated such as building a pond, a road, or a home, gating a road, burning, hunting, or activities near a stream please see Forest Stewardship Series 20:, Laws and Regulations Affecting Forests, Part II: Activities other than Timber Harvesting.
Visit the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) website to find out about the California Forest Practice Act and Rules for timber harvesting.