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AB-904 Forest practices: working forest management plans.(2013-2014)

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Assembly Bill No. 904
CHAPTER 648

An act to add Article 7.7 (commencing with Section 4597) to Chapter 8 of Part 2 of Division 4 of the Public Resources Code, relating to forest resources.

[ Approved by Governor  October 08, 2013. Filed with Secretary of State  October 08, 2013. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 904, Chesbro. Forest practices: working forest management plans.
The Z’berg-Nejedly Forest Practice Act of 1973 prohibits a person from conducting timber operations on timberland unless a timber harvesting plan has been prepared by a registered professional forester and has been submitted to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and approved by the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection or the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection. A violation of the act is a crime.
The bill would authorize a person who intends to become a working forest landowner, as defined, to file a working forest management plan with the department, with the long-term objective of an uneven aged timber stand and sustained yield through the implementation of the plan. The bill would require the plan to be prepared by a registered professional forester, be public record, and contain certain information, including the name and address of the timberland owner. The bill would require the department to provide a public comment period of at least 90 days from the date of the receipt of the plan, as specified. The bill would require the department to determine if the plan is accurate, complete, and in proper order. The bill would require the director to return the plan if the director determines that the plan is not in conformance, as provided.
The bill would require the working forest landowner who owns, leases, or otherwise controls or operates on all or any portion of any timberland within the boundaries of an approved plan and who harvests any of the timber during a given year to file a working forest harvest notice, as defined, with the department in writing. The bill would require the notice to be public record and to include certain information, including a statement that state or federally listed rare, threatened, candidate, or endangered plant or animal species have not been discovered in the harvest area since the approval of the plan.
The bill would require the director to convene an interdisciplinary review team, as described, every 5 years to review an approved plan’s administrative record, plan summary information, as specified, and any other information relevant to verify that operations have been conducted in accordance with the plan and applicable laws. The bill would require the department to cancel a previously approved plan if the department determines that the objectives of uneven aged management and sustained yield are not being met or if there are other persistent violations, as provided.
The bill would require the board to adopt regulations needed to implement the above provisions by January 1, 2016.
The bill would provide that its provisions shall not apply to the Southern Subdistrict of the Coast Forest District, as defined. The bill would make legislative findings and declarations regarding the need for special legislation.
Because a violation of these provisions is a crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Article 7.7 (commencing with Section 4597) is added to Chapter 8 of Part 2 of Division 4 of the Public Resources Code, to read:
Article  7.7. Working Forest Management Plan

4597.
 (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) The nonindustrial timber management plan established pursuant to Article 7.5 (commencing with Section 4593) has been successful in meeting the intent of this chapter by encouraging prudent and responsible forest management and discouraging accelerated timberland conversion by private nonindustrial forest landowners.
(2) There have been 763 nonindustrial timber management plans approved by the department covering a combined area of 315,000 acres.
(3) Building upon the model provided by the nonindustrial timber management plan, it is the policy of the state to encourage long-term planning, increased productivity of timberland, and the conservation of open space on a greater number of nonindustrial working forest ownerships and acreages.
(4) It is the policy of the state to encourage prudent and responsible forest resource management of nonindustrial timberlands by approving working forest management plans in advance and authorizing working forest timber harvest notices to be filed ministerially.
(5) To ensure long-term benefits such as added carbon sequestration, local and regional employment and economic activity, sustainable production of timber and other forest products, aesthetics, and the maintenance of ecosystem processes and services, the working forest management plan shall comply with rigorous timber inventory standards that are subject to periodic review and verification.
(b) This article shall be implemented in a manner that complies with the applicable provisions of this chapter and other laws, including, but not limited to, the Timberland Productivity Act of 1982 (Chapter 6.7 (commencing with Section 51100) of Division 1 of Title 5 of the Government Code), the California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code), the Porter Cologne Water Quality Control Act (Division 7 (commencing with Section 13000) of the Water Code), and the California Endangered Species Act (Chapter 1.5 (commencing with Section 2050) of the Fish and Game Code).

4597.1.
 Notwithstanding Section 4521, unless the context otherwise requires, the following definitions govern construction of this article:
(a) “Long-term sustained yield” means the average annual growth sustainable by the inventory predicted at the end of a 100-year planning horizon, or a shorter planning horizon if the forest encompassed by the working forest management plan has reached a balance between growth and yield.
(b) “Major stand type” means a stand that occupies an area equal to or greater than 25 percent of a working forest management plan.
(c) “Management unit” means a geographically identifiable area delineated for silviculture or management purposes. A management unit is intended to reflect an area scheduled for harvest under the plan in any given year, but may also be designated to address specific resource sensitivities.
(d) “Stand” means a geographically identifiable group of trees sufficiently uniform in age-class distribution, composition, and structure and growing on a site of sufficiently uniform quality to be a distinguishable unit.
(e) “Strata” means a grouping of similar stands defined for silvicultural or management purposes, usually according to similarities in stand composition, structure, and age.
(f) “Sustained yield” means the yield of commercial wood that an area of commercial timberland can produce continuously at a given intensity of management consistent with required environmental protection and that is professionally planned to achieve over time a balance between growth and removal. Sustained yield management implies continuous production planned so as to achieve, at the earliest practical time, a balance between growth and harvest.
(g) “Uneven aged management” means forest management with the goal of establishing a well-stocked stand of various age classes, which permits the periodic harvest of individual or small groups of trees to achieve sustained yield objectives of the working forest management plan, and provide for regeneration of trees and maintenance of age class structure.
(h) “Working forest harvest notice” means notice of timber harvest operations, pursuant to an approved working forest management plan, which meets the requirements of Section 4597.11.
(i) “Working forest landowner” means an owner of timberland with less than 15,000 acres who has an approved working forest management plan and is not primarily engaged in the manufacture of forest products.
(j) “Working forest management plan” means a management plan for working forest timberlands, with objectives of maintaining, restoring, or creating uneven aged managed timber stand conditions, achieving sustained yield, and promoting forestland stewardship that protects watersheds, fisheries and wildlife habitats, and other important values.
(k) “Working forest timberlands” means timberland owned by a working forest landowner.

4597.2.
 A working forest management plan may be filed with the department in writing by a person who intends to become a working forest landowner with the long-term objective of an uneven aged timber stand and sustained yield through the implementation of a working forest management plan. The management plan shall be prepared by a registered professional forester. It shall be public record and shall include all of the following information:
(a) The name and address of the timberland owner.
(b) A description of the land on which the plan is proposed to be implemented, including a United States Geological Survey quadrangle map or equivalent indicating the location of all streams, the location of all proposed and existing logging truck roads, and the boundaries of all site I classification timberlands to be stocked in accordance with subdivision (b) of Section 4561 and any other site classifications if the board establishes specific minimum stocking standards for other site classifications.
(c) A description by the registered professional forester of the inventory design and timber stand stratification criteria that demonstrates that the inventory supporting the growth and yield calculations used to determine long-term sustained yield for the working forest management plans meets the following minimum standards:
(1) For major stand or strata, the inventory estimate shall be within 15 percent of the mean at one standard error.
(2) For stand or strata that make up greater than 10 percent and less than 25 percent of the working forest management plan area, the estimate shall be no greater than 25 percent of the mean at one standard error.
(3) Inventory estimates and growth and yield shall be projected for the purposes of determining long-term sustained yield and volumes available for harvest by stand or strata and aggregated for the area covered by the working forest management plan to develop the long-term sustained yield estimate. Long-term sustained yield estimates shall reasonably reflect constraints applicable to the working forest timberlands on forest management activities.
(d) A description and discussion of the methods to be used to avoid significant sediment discharge to watercourses from timber operations. This shall include disclosure of active erosion sites from roads, skid trails, crossings, or any other structures or sites that have the potential to discharge sediment attributable to timber operations into waters of the state in an amount deleterious to the beneficial uses of water, an erosion control implementation plan, and a schedule to implement erosion controls that prioritizes major sources of erosion. This subdivision shall not apply to the extent that the registered professional forester provides documentation to the department that the working forest management plan is in compliance with similar requirements of other applicable provisions of law.
(e) Special provisions to protect unique areas, if any, within the boundaries of the proposed working forest management plan.
(f) A description of the property and planned activities including acres and projected growth, existing stand types, major stand types or strata, its current projected growth by strata, silvicultural applications to be applied to strata to achieve long-term sustained yield, projected timber volumes and tree sizes to be available for harvest, and projected frequencies of harvest.
(g) (1) A description of late succession forest stands in the plan area and how the total acreage of this type of habitat will be maintained across the plan area under a constraint of no net loss. Nothing in this requirement shall be interpreted to preclude active management on any given acre of an approved plan if the management is conducted in a manner that maintains or enhances the overall acreage of late succession forest stands that existed in the plan area upon initial plan approval. An exception to the no net loss constraint may be granted in the event of a catastrophic loss due to emergency factors such as wildfire, insect, and disease activity. The description shall include the following:
(A) Retention measures for existing biological legacies such as snags, trees with cavities or basal hollows, and down logs, and address how those legacies shall be managed over time appropriate with the forest type, climate, and landowner’s forest fire fuels and wildlife management objectives.
(B) Hardwood tree species and how they will be managed over time.
(2) Late succession forest stand types or strata shall be mapped.
(3) Notwithstanding the definition of late succession forest stands in Section 895.1 of Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations, and for the sole purpose of this article, “late succession forest stands” means stands of dominant and predominant trees that meet the criteria of the California Wildlife Habitat Relationships System class 5D, 5M, or 6 with an open, moderate, or dense canopy closure classification, often with multiple canopy layers, and are at least 10 acres in size. Functional characteristics of late succession forest stands include large decadent trees, snags, and large down logs.
(h) Disclosure of state or federally listed threatened, candidate, endangered, or rare plant or animal species located within the biological assessment area, their status and habitats, take avoidance methodologies, enforceable protection measures for species and habitats, and how forest management will maintain these over time.
(i) (1) A description of the following for each management unit:
(A) Acres by stand or strata and estimated growth and yield for each planned harvest entry covering the period of time the long-term sustained yield plan establishes as necessary to meet growth and yield objectives. The growth and yield estimates may be based on weighted average of yield for the stand types or strata within the area included in the management unit.
(B) Yarding methods to be used.
(C) Management units shall be mapped.
(2) (A) For long-term sustained yield projections, pursuant to subdivision (c), that project a reduction in quadratic mean diameter of trees greater than 12 inches in diameter or a reduced level of inventory for a major stand type or for a stand or strata that make up greater than 10 percent and less than 25 percent of the working forest management plan area, an assessment shall be included that does all of the following:
(i) Addresses candidate, threatened, endangered, and sensitive species, and other fish and wildlife species that timber operations could adversely impact by potential changes to habitat.
(ii) Addresses species habitat needs utilizing the “WHR system” described in “A Guide to Wildlife Habitats in California,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife, 1988, or comparable typing system.
(iii) Addresses constraints to timber management, the impact of the availability and distribution of habitats on the ownership and within the cumulative impacts assessment area identified in the plan in relation to the harvest schedule, and the impacts of the planned management activities utilizing the existing habitat as the baseline for comparison.
(iv) Discusses and includes feasible measures planned to avoid or mitigate potentially significant adverse impacts on fish or wildlife, which can include, but is not limited to, recruitment or retention of large down logs greater than 16 inches in diameter and 20 feet in length, retention of trees with structural features such as basal hollows, cavities, large limbs, or broken tops, retention of hardwoods, and retention or recruitment of snags greater than 24 inches in diameter and 16 feet in height.
(j) A certification by the registered professional forester preparing the plan that the forester or a designee has personally inspected the plan area.
(k) A certification by the registered professional forester preparing the plan that the forester or a designee has clearly explained to the working forest landowner that the plan is a long-term commitment that may require ongoing investments, including inventory sampling and road maintenance, for the purpose of managing the plan.
(l) Any other information the board requires by regulation to meet its rules and the standards of this chapter.

4597.3.
 The board shall adopt regulations regarding the notice of receipt of the proposed working forest management plan. The notice shall be given within two working days following receipt of the proposed management plan and shall be consistent with all applicable laws. The method of notice shall include, but not be limited to, mailed notice and Internet-based notice. The regulations may require the person submitting the working forest management plan to provide to the department a list of the names and addresses of persons to whom the notice is to be mailed.

4597.4.
 The department shall provide notice of the filing of working forest management plans, the proposed plans, and working forest harvest notices on its Internet Web site, and to any person who requests, in writing, that notification.

4597.5.
 Upon receipt of the proposed working forest management plan, the department shall place the proposed plan, or a true copy of the proposed plan, in a location or on an Internet Web site available for public inspection in the county in which timber operations are proposed under the plan. For the purpose of interdisciplinary review, the department shall also transmit a copy to the Department of Conservation, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the appropriate California regional water quality control board, the county planning agency, and all other agencies having jurisdiction by law over natural resources affected by the plan. The department shall invite, consider, and respond in writing to comments received from public agencies to which the plan has been transmitted and shall consult with those agencies at their request.

4597.6.
 (a) The department shall provide a time period for public comment, starting from the date of the receipt of a working forest management plan, as follows:
(1) Ninety days for a working forest management plan for less than 5,000 acres.
(2) One hundred ten days for a working forest management plan for between 5,000 and 9,999 acres.
(3) One hundred thirty days for a working forest management plan for between 10,000 and 14,999 acres.
(b) Before a working forest management plan may be approved, all of the following requirements shall be met:
(1) Within 30 working days of the receipt of a working forest management plan, or within 40 working days of the receipt of a plan to which a road management plan is appended, the department shall determine if the plan is accurate, complete, and in proper order, and if so, the plan shall be filed. An unfiled plan shall be returned to the applicant with an explanation that includes provisions for resubmitting the plan.
(2) The initial inspection shall be initiated within 20 working days from the date of filing of the working forest management plan, and completed no more than 30 working days from the date of filing.
(3) Upon completion of the initial inspection, the department shall have up to 45 working days to conduct the final interagency review of the plan.
(4) The public comment period shall end 20 working days after the completion of the final interagency review of the plan or until the requirement in subdivision (a) is met, whichever is greater.
(5) After the final interagency review and public comment period has ended, the department shall have up to 30 working days to review the public input, to consider recommendations and mitigation measures of other agencies, to respond in writing to the issues raised, and to determine if the plan is in conformance with the applicable rules adopted by the board and other applicable provisions of law.
(c) If after final interagency review the director determines that the plan is not in conformance with the rules and regulations of the board or this chapter, the director shall deny and return the plan, stating the reasons for the denial and advising the person submitting the plan of the person’s right to a hearing before the board.
(d) If the director does not act within the time periods provided in paragraphs (1) through (5) in subdivision (b), the director and the working forest landowner submitting the working forest management plan shall negotiate and mutually agree upon a longer period for the director to review the plan. If a longer period cannot be mutually agreed upon, the working forest management plan shall be deemed denied and returned to the working forest landowner submitting the plan.
(e) (1) A working forest landowner to whom a plan is denied pursuant to subdivision (c) or (d) may request, within 30 working days from the receipt of the plan, a public hearing before the board. The board shall schedule a public hearing to review the plan to determine if the plan is in conformance with the rules and regulations of the board and this chapter.
(2) Board action shall take place within 30 working days from the filing of the appeal, or a longer period mutually agreed upon by the board and the person filing the appeal.
(3) If the director’s decision to deny the plan is overturned by the board, the board shall prepare findings and its rationale for overturning the decision, and return the plan to the department for approval by the director.
(4) If the plan is not approved on appeal to the board, the director, within 10 working days of board action, shall advise the plan submitter regarding changes needed that would achieve compliance with this chapter and other applicable provisions of the law. The plan submitter shall have 45 working days from the date of the notification letter, or longer, if mutually agreeable to the department and the plan submitter to revise the plan to bring it into full conformance with the rules and regulations of the board and this chapter. Upon receipt of the information requested of the plan submitter, the department shall recirculate the plan and reopen the public comment period for 30 working days. Prior to determining whether to approve the proposed revised plan, the director shall have 30 working days to review public input and consider recommendations and mitigation measures of other agencies, and to respond in writing to issues raised.

4597.7.
 The working forest landowner may submit a proposed amendment to the approved plan and shall not take any action that substantially deviates, as defined by the board, from the approved plan until the amendment has been filed with the director and the director has determined, after completion of the interagency review and public comment period, either of the following:
(a) The amendment is in compliance with the current rules and regulations of the board and the provisions of this chapter.
(b) The amendment is in compliance with the rules and regulations of the board and the provisions of this chapter that were in effect at the time the working forest management plan was approved. The director may only make this determination if the registered professional forester explains, justifies, and certifies both of the following:
(1) The adherence to new or modified rules and regulations of the board would cause unreasonable additional expense to the working forest landowner.
(2) Compliance with the rules and regulations of the board and the provisions of this chapter that were in effect at the time the working forest management plan was approved will not result in any significant degradation to the beneficial uses of water, soil stability, forest productivity, or wildlife.
(c) Review timelines for substantial deviations of working forest management plans shall conform to the direction provided in Section 4582.7, except for amendments that add acreage covered by the original working forest management plan that exceeds 10 percent or 500 acres, whichever is greater. Amendments that add acreage in excess of 10 percent or 500 acres shall be reviewed pursuant to the procedures specified in Section 4597.6.

4597.8.
 The working forest landowner may take actions that do not substantially deviate from the approved plan without the submission of an amendment, but those actions shall be subsequently reported to the department. The board shall specify, by regulation, those nonsubstantial deviations that may be taken. The board shall specify the requirements for reporting those deviations.

4597.9.
 In the event of a change of ownership of the land described in the working forest management plan, the working forest landowner shall notify the new landowner of the existence of the plan and the need to notify the department of the new landowner’s intent regarding assumption of the plan. Notification shall be in writing with a copy to the department of the new landowner’s intent regarding assumption of the plan. The new landowner shall have one year from the date of the receipt of the notification by the department to notify the department in writing of his or her assumption of the plan. If the department does not receive notification within this period, the plan shall expire one year from the date the new landowner is advised by the department of the necessity to assume the plan.

4597.10.
 The working forest landowner may cancel the working forest management plan by submitting a written notice to the department. Once timber operations have commenced pursuant to a working forest harvest notice, cancellation is not effective on land covered by the notice until a report of satisfactory completion has been issued pursuant to Sections 4585, 4586, and 4587.

4597.11.
 The working forest landowner who owns, leases, or otherwise controls or operates on all or any portion of any timberland within the boundaries of an approved working forest management plan, and who plans to harvest any of the timber during a given year, shall file a working forest harvest notice with the department in writing. A notice shall be filed prior to the harvesting of any timber and shall be effective for a maximum of one year from the date of filing. If the person who files the notice is not the owner of the timberland, the person filing the notice shall notify the timberland owner by certified mail that the notice has been submitted and shall certify that mailing to the department. The notice shall be a public record and shall include all of the following information:
(a) The name and address of the timber owner.
(b) The name and address of the timber operator.
(c) The name and address of the registered professional forester preparing the working forest management plan.
(d) A description of the land on which the work is proposed to be done.
(e) A statement that no archaeological sites have been discovered in the harvest area since the approval of the working forest management plan.
(f) A statement that state or federally listed rare, threatened, candidate, or endangered plant or animal species have not been discovered in the harvest area since the approval of the working forest management plan. Prior to submitting the notice, a review of the California Natural Diversity Database or other public databases for any species listed as threatened, endangered, candidate, or rare, or species that meet the criteria of endangered or rare as provided in Section 15380 of Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations, shall be conducted after the initial year after the plan is approved. When a notice of operations is filed after the initial year the plan is approved, it shall comply with the following:
(1) Documented occurrences obtained from a review of public and readily available sources of species state or federally listed as threatened, endangered, candidate, or rare within the biological assessment area and outside the area identified in the working forest harvest notice not addressed in the approved plan shall be submitted to the director as a minor deviation concurrently with the filing of a working forest harvest notice.
(2) Occurrences of species that are state or federally listed as threatened, endangered, candidate, or rare discovered inside the area identified in the working forest harvest notice not addressed in the approved plan shall be submitted to the director as an amendment to the plan prior to filing a working forest harvest notice. The amendment shall contain take avoidance and mitigation measures if no such information is currently contained within the approved plan.
(g) A statement that there are no physical environmental changes in the harvest area that are so significant as to require any amendment of the working forest management plan.
(h) A certification by the registered professional forester that states either of the following:
(1) The notice as carried out will protect the beneficial uses of water, soil stability, forest productivity, and wildlife as provided by the rules and regulations of the board and other applicable provisions of law.
(2) Compliance with the rules and regulations of the board and the provisions of this chapter that were in effect at the time the working forest management plan was approved will not result in any significant degradation to the beneficial uses of water, soil stability, forest productivity, or wildlife. This paragraph shall only apply if the forester certifies that adherence to current or modified rules and regulations of the board would cause unreasonable additional expense to the working forest landowner.
(i) Special provisions to protect unique areas, if any, within the area of timber operations.
(j) The expected dates of commencement and completion of timber operations during the year.
(k) A statement that the harvesting notice conforms to the provisions of the approved management plan. If any aspects of the proposed operation are less protective than the current forest practices rules, an explanation of the deviation and how resource values will be adequately protected.
(l) An update on erosion control mitigation measures for the harvest area and any appurtenant roads if conditions have changed since the working forest management plan was approved and a certification from the registered professional forester that no additional listings of water bodies to the Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. Sec. 1313(d)) list have occurred on the lands of the plan.
(m) Any other information the board provides by regulation to meet its rules and the standards of this chapter and other applicable provisions of law.

4597.12.
 (a) For an approved working forest management plan, the director shall convene a meeting with the interdisciplinary review team, as that term is used in subdivision (a) of Section 1037.5 of Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations, every five years to review the plan’s administrative record, information obtained pursuant to subdivision (b), and any other information relevant to verify that operations have been conducted in accordance with the plan and applicable laws and regulations. Participation by review team agencies shall be at the discretion of each agency. If at this meeting a member of the review team determines that a field inspection is necessary to verify that operations have been conducted in accordance with the plan and applicable laws and regulations, then a field inspection may be conducted.
(b) For the purposes of subdivision (a), the board, in consultation with the review team agencies, shall adopt regulations that require the department to develop a plan summary before each five-year review that allows the review team to analyze information including, but not limited to, the number of notices of timber operations, the acreage operated under each notice, the violations received, and the volume harvested in relation to projections of harvest in the plan. If the department or a review team agency does not have direct access to information needed for the plan summary, the department may require the landowner to provide this information.
(c) For the purpose of allowing the public to monitor a working forest management plan, the department shall provide the public, in writing or on its Internet Web site, notice of each five-year review and a copy of the plan summary. The public may submit to the review team additional information relevant to the purpose of the five-year review and the review team may consider this information when conducting its review.
(d) This section does not authorize the public disclosure of proprietary information without first obtaining the landowner’s consent.

4597.13.
 The registered professional forester who prepares the working forest management plan or prepares the notice of harvest, or any other registered professional forester who is employed by the owner or operator, shall report to the owner or operator if there are deviations from the plan that, in the forester’s judgment, threaten the attainment of the resource conservation standards of the plan.

4597.14.
 If the board finds that a registered professional forester has made any material misstatement in a working forest harvest notice, working forest management plan, or report pursuant to this chapter, the board shall take disciplinary action against the forester as provided pursuant to Section 775.

4597.15.
 Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, if a registered professional forester certifies by written declaration, on behalf of the timber owner or operator, that the working forest harvest notice conforms to and meets the requirements of the approved working forest management plan under which it is filed, timber operations may commence immediately. If the notice has been filed by mailing, operations may commence three days after the notice has been mailed. Cancellation of the plan may be appealed by the plan submitter or landowner utilizing the process prescribed in paragraph (1) of subdivision (e) of Section 4597.6.

4597.16.
 If the department determines that the objectives of uneven aged management and sustained yield are not being met by a working forest landowner, or there are other persistent violations detected that are not being corrected, the department shall cancel a previously approved working forest management plan and any further timber operations under the plan shall be terminated. In making a determination to cancel a plan, the department may cite the findings of a review conducted pursuant to Section 4597.12.

4597.17.
 If a landowner with a nonindustrial timber management plan or a working forest management plan with less than 2,500 acres expands his or her total timberland ownership to 2,500 or more acres, the landowner may transition into a working forest management plan for more than 2,500 acres through an amendment to the plan. The board shall adopt regulations that establish this amendment process.

4597.18.
 A participating landowner, in conjunction with the preparation of an application for a working forest management plan filed with the department, may also seek approval of a safe harbor agreement from the Department of Fish and Wildlife, pursuant to Article 3.7 (commencing with Section 2089.2) of Chapter 1.5 of Division 3 of the Fish and Game Code. All review costs associated with the safe harbor agreement approval process incurred by the Department of Fish and Wildlife pursuant to this section shall be paid from the fund created in Section 4629.3.

4597.19.
 Notwithstanding any other law, if a person with a working forest management plan or a nonindustrial timber management plan applies for state restoration grant funding for a restoration project that has a significant public benefit, the application shall not be summarily denied on the basis that the project is a required condition of the harvesting plan.

4597.20.
 The board shall adopt the regulations needed to implement this article by January 1, 2016.

4597.21.
 This article does not affect the applicability of county rules adopted pursuant to Section 4516.5 nor any court decision made by a court of competent jurisdiction.

4597.22.
 This article shall not apply to the Southern Subdistrict of the Coast Forest District, as defined in Section 845.1 of Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations.

SEC. 2.

 The Legislature finds and declares that a special law is necessary and that a general law cannot be made applicable within the meaning of Section 16 of Article IV of the California Constitution because of the unique urbanized nature of the Southern Subdistrict of the Coast Forest District.

SEC. 3.

 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.