Dent’s small forest landowner bill signed into law

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Dent

OLYMPIA — Small forest landowners will be getting a little bit more help in reducing wildfire risk when a bill sponsored by Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake, goes into effect in July.

House Bill 1924 exempts small forest landowners from select provisions in the Farm Labor Contractor Act, which in turn allows them to clean up their property as they aim to reduce wildfire risk to their land. The exemption grants small forest landowners the opportunity to hire a person without being subject to the farm labor contract statute, which Dent says can cost small forest landowners hundreds of dollars and possibly require posting a bond and obtaining additional insurance.

“This law simplifies regulations for small forest landowners who want to clean up their property and make it more ‘firewise.’ We have landowners in Kittitas County who have been trying to clean up their property for years, but they were being penalized under the current system,” Dent said.

In the legislation, which passed through the legislature unanimously, the Department of Natural Resources is directed to conduct a feasibility study of multi-year burn permits and examine a reduced fee structure.

“We do not want to penalize landowners or have a system that discourages them from following the rules, especially when it comes to reducing wildfire risks,” Dent stated. “The forest fuel cleanup business was being pushed underground and eliminating some of the bureaucracy surrounding those rules should address that problem.”

The law goes into effect July 22.

Richard Byrd can be reached via email at city@columbiabasinherald.com.

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