New, Simplified Forest Practices Rules in Effect

Friday April 8, 2022

Coeur d'Alene - New rules are now in place for the Forest Practices Act. What this means for people managing their forestlands is simpler, easier to understand regulations.

One of the biggest changes is to the Class I stream protection section. Widely known as the Shade Rule, it originally went into effect in 2014 and was established to protect the shading of Class I fish bearing streams when timber is harvested. The changes to the rules simplify the process of determining allowed harvests near a fish bearing stream while still protecting the fish habitat and water quality.

The previous Shade Rule was considered by many to be too complicated, requiring a spreadsheet, a lot of thought, and often a forestry consultant. The revisions simplify it to one harvest formula with regional forest types and broader diameter size ranges, making compliance easier and less costly while maintaining effectiveness.

Road construction rules were also updated to improve water quality protections at stream crossings. For fish bearing stream crossings the new rules require additional rocking, armoring of stream crossing culverts greater than 30 inches in diameter, and clarification of sediment reduction measures.

The new rules also open new opportunities for more environmentally friendly logging on steeper terrains. Technology used in the industry has changed; machinery is now being used on steep slopes while tethered to an anchor with a specialized winch to improve traction. This traction-assistance allows the machine to operate safely on steep slopes while minimizing soil disturbance. The new rule allows for the universal use of this family of machines and accommodates for the changing technology.

The new rules were approved by the legislature this session and went into effect when both houses adjourned.

More specific information on the new rules can be found at

IDL administers the Idaho Forest Practices Act (Title 38, Chapter 13, Idaho Code), which sets standards for logging, road building, reforestation, streamside protection, and other forest activities. The Rules Pertaining to the Idaho Forest Practices Act set minimum standards to assure the continuous growing and harvesting of forest tree species and to protect and maintain the forest soil, water resources, wildlife, and aquatic habitat.