Designated Forest Land

Link to Online Documents:
Forms, Publications, State Law

Program Benefit

Washington State encourages sound forestry practices so that present and future generations can enjoy the many benefits that healthy forests provide. As a way to encourage responsible, commercial forestry in Washington State, landowners may choose to have their land designated as forest land. This designation often results in a lower assessed value and lower taxes.

Qualifying Definition

Designating Forest Land is defined in RCW 84.33 and valued in WAC Chapter 458-40.

All of the requirements must be met to qualify for the Designated Forest Land (DFL) Program.

  • The land must be used primarily for growing and harvesting timber for commercial purposes.
  • The land must consist of a single parcel of 5 or more acres; or multiple, contiguous parcels totaling 5 or more acres. Residential home sites are not included in the 5 acre minimum. 
  • Designated forest land may include land used for incidental uses that are compatible with growing and harvesting timber, but no more than ten percent of the land may be used for such incidental uses.
  • If the land has appurtenances necessary for the production, preparation, or sale of the timber products, that land may also be included.
  • You must comply with forest practice laws and regulations. 
  • Application and Forest Management Plan must be submitted to the Assessor.
Application Process
Application FeeThe fee for application or reclassification is $550. The fee is non-refundable. Please include the fee with your application or reclassification and make the check payable to "San Juan County Treasurer".

Who may apply?
An owner or contract purchaser may apply for designated forest land assessment. However, all owners or contract purchaser must sign the application for classification, and any resulting agreement.

When may I apply?
Applications may be made for classification at any time during the year from January 1 through December 31. If approved, designated forest land assessment will begin on January 1 following the year the application was submitted.

Applications and Forest Management Plan

The application and Forest Management Plan are submitted at the same time.  

The application will not be processed without a Forest Management Plan prepared by a professional forester. The Forest Management Plan shall be assembled in a single document and submitted to the Assessor's Office. The Forest Management Plan must contain all the requirements identified in the "Designated Forest Land Management Plan Requirements".   

Approval Time-Line
If approved, designated status begins January 1 the year after you apply. If the Assessor does not notify you as to whether your application was approved or denied prior to July 1 of the year after you apply, the application is automatically approved. If denied, you may appeal the denial to San Juan County Board of Equalization

Reclassification of Land from DFL to Farm & Agricultural Land
In the event DFL status is removed by the Assessor and the land owner wishes to reclassify as agricultural land, application must be submitted within 30 days from the date of removal from forest land status. 

Application: Change of Designation 64 0038 (Download, Fill-in)

Attachments:  Rev 64 0024 or Rev 64 0108, Farm Management Plan Requirements 

The Assessor may require an owner of classified land to submit data regarding the use of the land, productivity of typical crops, income and expense data, and similar information regarding continued eligibility.

Where do I file the application?

Hand DeliverMailE-mail
350 Court Street
Friday Harbor, WA
San Juan County Assessor
PO Box 1519
Friday Harbor, WA  98250