222-46-060 - Civil penalties

222-46-060. Civil penalties

(1) Amount of penalty. Every person who violates any provisions of RCW 76.09.010 through 76.09.280 or of the forest practices rules adopted pursuant thereto, or who converts forest land to a use other than commercial timber operation within three years after completion of the forest practice without the consent of the county, city, or town, shall be subject to a penalty in an amount of not more than ten thousand dollars for each such violation. Each and every such violation shall be a separate and distinct violation. In case of a failure to comply with a stop work order, every day's continuance thereafter shall be a separate and distinct violation.

(2) Penalty assessments shall consider the following:

(a) Repairability of the adverse effect from the violation;

(b) Whether the violation of the act or rules was intentional;

(c) Cooperation with the department;

(d) Previous violation history;

(e) Severity of the impact or the potential for material damage to public resources; and

(f) The extent to which a penalty to be imposed on a forest landowner for a forest practices violation committed by another should be reduced because the owner was unaware of the violation and did not receive substantial economic benefits from the violation.

(3) Calculation of penalty. The department shall evaluate any violation to determine if a civil penalty is warranted. When penalties are to be assessed they shall be calculated using the following process:

(a) Determine the base penalty; see WAC 222-46-065.

(b) The penalty may be adjusted using factors specific to the incident and the site. The following additional factors will be independently considered and added to the base penalty to calculate the civil penalty:

(i) Repairability:

Repairability shall be based on the length of time natural restoration or implementation of a restoration plan will take and whether repair can be achieved. The penalty will be substantially increased when natural restoration will not occur within three years and the damage cannot be effectively corrected. For this factor, up to double the base penalty may be added to the penalty.

(ii) Intention:

In making a determination of intent, the department shall consider, but not be limited to, the following considerations: The foreseeability of the violation; whether precautions were taken to avoid the violation; whether an informal conference or enforcement action was served on the violator prior to the violation. For this factor, up to double the base penalty may be added to the penalty.

(iii) Cooperation:

The department shall consider whether the violator did or did not make any attempt to correct the problem. Timeliness of action(s) and/or ignoring or evading agency contacts or directives shall determine if the penalty shall be increased. For this factor, up to double the base penalty may be added to the penalty.

(iv) Previous violation(s):

The department shall consider whether the violator has previous violations of a forest practices rule or regulation as documented in an enforcement action. The department may consider company organizations and assignment of operational responsibilities when evaluating previous violations. A history of violations with adverse impacts or potential for adverse impacts or that shows a pattern of ignoring the rules or the act, shall result in a substantially larger penalty.

Enforcement actions for the purposes of this section shall include notices to comply, stop work orders, civil penalties, and criminal citations when those enforcement actions are associated with forest practices violations. For this factor, up to quadruple the base penalty may be added to the penalty.

(v) Severity:

The department shall adjust the penalty based on the extent and magnitude of the damage or potential damage to public resources. For this factor, up to quadruple the base penalty may be added to the penalty.

(vi) Landowner involvement:

If in the opinion of the department, the landowner exercised reasonable prudence in the development of timber sale contracts or supervision of the forest practices operations, was unaware of the forest practices violation, and the landowner received no substantial economic benefit from the violation, then the landowner generally would not be assessed a civil penalty.

(c) In accordance with RCW 76.09.170, the penalty may not exceed ten thousand dollars for each and every violation.

(d) The department shall determine whether all or a portion of the penalty should be assessed against the operator, landowner, and/or timber owner. The department should consider the responsible party, the degree of control, the sophistication of the party and whether different parties conducted different violations.

(4) Other participants. Every person who through an act of commission or omission procures, aids or abets in the violation shall be considered to have violated the provisions of this section and shall be subject to the penalty provided for in this section.

(5) Government employees. No penalty shall be imposed under this section upon any governmental official, an employee of any governmental department, agency, or entity, or a member of any board created by the act for any act or omission in his/her duties in the administration of the act or of these rules.

(6) Written notice. The penalty shall be imposed by a notice in writing, either by certified mail with return receipt requested or by personal service, to the person incurring the same from the department describing the violation with reasonable particularity.

(7) Remission or mitigation. Within fifteen days after the notice is received, the person incurring the penalty may apply in writing to the supervisor of the department or his or her designee for the remission or mitigation of such penalty. Upon receipt of the application, the department may remit or mitigate the penalty upon whatever terms the department in its discretion deems proper: Provided, That the department deems such remission or mitigation to be in the best interests of carrying out the purposes of the act. The department shall have authority to ascertain the facts regarding all such applications in such reasonable manner and under such rules as they may deem proper. The reviewer may reduce, dismiss or not change the civil penalty.

(8) Right of appeal. Any person incurring any penalty hereunder may appeal the same to the appeals board. Such appeals shall be filed within thirty days after the date of receipt of the penalty unless an application for remission or mitigation is made to the department. When such an application for remission or mitigation is made, such appeals shall be filed within thirty days of receipt of notice from the department setting forth the disposition of the application for remission or mitigation. Concurrently with the filing of any appeal to the appeals board as provided in this section, the appellant shall file a copy of the appeal with the department region from which the penalty was issued and a copy with the office of the attorney general.

(9) Penalties due. The penalty imposed under this section shall become due and payable thirty days after receipt of a notice imposing the same unless application for remission or mitigation is made or an appeal is filed. When such an application for remission or mitigation is made, any penalty incurred under this section shall become due and payable thirty days after receipt of notice setting forth the disposition of such application unless an appeal is filed from such disposition. Whenever an appeal of the penalty incurred is filed, the penalty shall become due and payable only upon completion of all administrative and judicial review proceedings and the issuance of a final order or decision confirming the penalty in whole or in part.

(10) Enforcement. If the amount of any penalty is not paid to the department within thirty days after it becomes due and payable, the attorney general, upon the request of the department, shall bring an action in the name of the state of Washington in the superior court of Thurston county or of any county in which such violator may do business, to recover such penalty, interest, costs, and attorneys' fees. In all such actions the procedure and rules of evidence shall be the same as an ordinary civil action except as otherwise provided in the Forest Practices Act. In addition to or as an alternative to seeking enforcement of penalties in superior court, the department may bring an action in district court as provided in Title 3 RCW, to collect penalties, interest, costs, and attorneys' fees.

(11) Liens. Penalties imposed under this section for violations associated with a conversion to a use other than commercial timber operation shall be a lien upon the real property of the person assessed the penalty. The department may collect such amounts in the same manner provided in chapter 60.04 RCW for mechanics' liens.

(12) Any person incurring a penalty is also responsible for the payment of all costs and attorneys' fees incurred with the penalty as well as interest accruing on the unpaid penalty amount.

Statutory Authority: RCW 76.09.040. 10-23-077, § 222-46-060, filed 11/15/10, effective 12/16/10; 08-24-011, § 222-46-060, filed 11/21/08, effective 12/22/08. Statutory Authority: Chapter 34.05 RCW, RCW 76.09.040, [76.09.]050,[76.09.]370, 76.13.120(9). 01-12-042, § 222-46-060, filed 5/30/01, effective 7/1/01. Statutory Authority: RCW 76.09.040, 76.09.170 and chapter 34.05 RCW. 94-01-134, § 222-46-060, filed 12/20/93, effective 1/1/94; Order 263, § 222-46-060, filed 6/16/76.

The following state regulations pages link to this page.