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Timber Harvesting Plans

In response to the devastating wildfires that swept across Southern California in 2003, the legislature created the Forest Fire Prevention Exemption (FFPE) to the Timber Harvest Plan (THP) in order to incentivize landowners to engage in forest thinning projects intended to reduce the threat of wildfire and to lessen the intensity of wildfires.

Specifically, current law allows for trees less than 18 inches in stump diameter to be cleared and in special circumstances trees less than 24 inches in stump diameter to be cleared, without forcing the landowner to spend upwards of $40,000 to file a THP. The pilot exemption was renewed twice by the legislature and made permanent last year without any concern expressed by the public and not a single “no” vote.

The reason that the FFPE has been underutilized over the past 10 years is that the 18 and 24-inch stump diameter limits in existing law do not enable a private landowner to engage in fire thinning projects that are economically feasible. AB 350 would raise the diameter of a tree that qualifies under the FFPE to 28 inches in most instances, and 34 inches where it is necessary to achieve the State’s fuel reduction goals.

The news story about the bill is here. The full text of the bill is here.