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AGO 1949 No. 166 - November 25, 1949
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

FORESTRY -- PROTECTION OF NON-FOREST LANDS

Division of Forestry cannot undertake the protection of non-forest lands by contract.

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                                                               November 25, 1949

Mr. B. L. Orell
Supervisor of Forestry
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 166

Dear Sir:

            This is in answer to your letter of November 1, 1949, in which you ask whether the Division of Forestry may undertake to protect farm and urban property by contract under the provisions of chapter 141, Laws of 1949.

            Our conclusion is that a contract by which the Division of Forestry would undertake the protection of non-forest lands is not authorized by law.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            You state that a group of citizens in and near Granite Falls desire to form a fire protection district, but that much of the area they would like to include in the proposed district is precluded by being assessed for fire protection by the state.  As an alternative you suggest that the Forestry Division might extend its protection to the non-forest area near Granite Falls under a contract.

            Chapter 141, Laws of 1949, provides as follows:

            "The State Supervisor of Forestry shall, subject to the approval of the Director of the Department of Conservation and Development, have power, subject to the provisions hereof, to enter into contracts and undertakings with private corporations or rural fire  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] protection districts for the protection and development of the forests or any designated forest area within the state.  (Emphasis Ours)

            We are of the opinion that this section and its predecessor, § 1, chapter 45, Laws of 1933, only permit the Division of Forestry to contract for fire protection of forest lands.  There is no provision either in the above section or elsewhere in the law, authorizing the Division to contract for the use of its facilities in protecting non-forest land.

            We believe a contract, to come under the authorization of chapter 141, Laws of 1949, must have as its primary objective the protection of forest lands.  Such a contract might provide for reciprocal service between the Division of Forestry and a Fire Protection District, but a contract by which the Division would voluntarily furnish protection for a monetary or other consideration is not authorized.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

JAMES M. MORRIS
Assistant Attorney General

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