TITLE XIX-A
FORESTRY

Chapter 227-J
TIMBER HARVESTING

Section 227-J:1

    227-J:1 Declaration of Purpose. – It is hereby recognized and declared that the public welfare of this state requires the care and protection of forest cover adjacent to certain waters of the state and along public highways, and the proper disposal of slash and mill residue resulting from forest operations in certain circumstances to help conserve the amount and quality of surface waters and groundwaters of the state; reduce the incidence and severity of forest fires; promote healthful surroundings, recreational opportunities, and scenic values; ensure future forest productivity; improve conditions for wildlife; and provide other benefits to the public as the result of perpetuating a proper forest cover, while continuing to meet the timber needs of forest industries and providing income and employment for our citizens without undue infringement on the rights of private forest landowners.

Source. 1995, 299:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1996.

Section 227-J:2

    227-J:2 Duties and Authority of the Director. –
I. The director, or the director's authorized agents shall:
(a) Be the primary enforcement agency for this chapter.
(b) Enforce the provisions of RSA 637 insofar as they pertain to the protection and improvement of forestlands.
II. The director or the director's authorized agents may:
(a) For the purpose of performing the duties under this chapter, enter upon all lands in this state, posted or otherwise.
(b) Exercise the powers of arrest pursuant to RSA 227-G:7.
(c) Issue a written cease and desist order against any timber operation in violation of this chapter, with the exception of RSA 227-J:4. Any such violation may be enjoined by the superior court, upon application of the attorney general. A person failing to comply with the cease and desist order shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
(d) Issue cease and desist orders to temporarily suspend logging or other operations in forest areas when the director determines that such actions have resulted in, or are likely to result in, pollution of surface water or groundwater. In such instances, the director shall immediately notify the division of water supply and pollution control, which shall investigate at once. The cease and desist order issued by the director shall remain in force until such time as the division of water supply and pollution control determines whether the action in question constitutes a threat to water supplies.
III. The director may enter into cooperative agreements or memoranda of understanding for the enforcement of the provisions of this chapter.

Source. 1995, 299:1. 2010, 171:3, eff. Jan. 1, 2011.

Section 227-J:3

    227-J:3 Special Deputy Forest Rangers. – The director may appoint, as special deputy forest rangers, persons to assist the director in the enforcement of the provisions of this title and any other laws for which the division has enforcement authority, the protection and improvement of forestlands throughout the state, and the protection of persons and property on property owned, leased, or under the control of the department. Such individuals shall be employees of the division and shall have powers and duties exercised only at the discretion of the director. Such appointees shall be allowed, for their services, such compensation as may be fixed by the commissioner and the director, and such compensation shall be deemed an expense of enforcing state forest protection laws and paid by the state.

Source. 1995, 299:1. 2008, 98:1, eff. July 20, 2008.

Section 227-J:4

    227-J:4 Licensed Foresters. – It shall be unlawful for any person to practice for compensation or offer to practice for compensation in this state, the profession of forestry, as defined in RSA 310-A:99, II, or to use in connection with a name or otherwise assume, use, or advertise any title or description tending to convey the impression that such person is a forester, unless such person has been duly licensed according to the provisions of RSA 310-A. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in penalties under RSA 310-A.

Source. 1995, 299:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1996.

Section 227-J:5

    227-J:5 Notice of Intent to Cut and Report of Wood Cut. – Pursuant to RSA 79:10 and 11, any owner, as defined in RSA 79:1, II, conducting a cutting operation shall file an intent to cut and a report of wood cut. Pursuant to RSA 79:10, I(d), the intent to cut form as signed or properly noted as being signed by the assessing officials or the certificate issued by the department of revenue administration shall be posted prior to starting a cutting operation. Failure to comply with these requirements and those contained in RSA 79 may result in penalties to the owner or any other person doing the cutting, or both, under RSA 79.

Source. 1995, 299:1. 1998, 286:1. 2003, 138:5, eff. Jan. 1, 2004.

Section 227-J:6

    227-J:6 Operations in Wetlands. –
I. Pursuant to RSA 482-A no person shall excavate, remove, fill, dredge, or construct any structures in or on any bank, flat, marsh, or swamp in and adjacent to any waters of the state without a permit from the department of environmental services. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in penalties under RSA 482-A.
II. Pursuant to RSA 482-A:3, V, persons who have complied with notice of intent to cut wood requirements under RSA 79:10, and who have filed an appropriate notification of forest management activities having minimum wetlands impact with the department of environmental services and the department of natural and cultural resources, shall have satisfied the permitting requirements for minimum impact activities.
III. Pursuant to the rules of the department of environmental services, skid trails, truck roads and culverts, bridges, pole fords, or other crossings on the skid trails or truck roads shall be constructed in accordance with procedures as currently cited in the Best Management Practices for Erosion Control on Timber Harvesting Operations in New Hampshire, published by the department.

Source. 1995, 299:1. 1996, 296:37, eff. Aug. 9, 1996. 2017, 156:14, I, eff. July 1, 2017.

Section 227-J:7

    227-J:7 Alteration of Terrain. –
I. Pursuant to RSA 485-A:17, any person proposing to dredge, excavate, place fill, mine, transport forest products, or undertake construction in or on the border of the surface waters of the state, and any person proposing to significantly alter the characteristics of the terrain, in such a manner as to impede the natural runoff or create an unnatural runoff shall comply with the provisions of RSA 485-A. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in penalties under RSA 485-A.
II. Permits are obtained by signing the intent to cut form as provided in RSA 485-A:17, III.

Source. 1995, 299:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1996.

Section 227-J:8

    227-J:8 Trespass; Civil Penalty. –

[Paragraph I effective until January 1, 2022; see also paragraph I set out below.]


I. No person shall negligently cut, fell, destroy, injure, or carry away any tree, timber, log, wood, pole, underwood, or bark which is on the land of another person, or aid in such actions without the permission of that person or the person's agent.

[Paragraph I effective January 1, 2022; see also paragraph I set out above.]


I. No person shall negligently cut, fell, destroy, injure, carry away, or cause to be cut, felled, destroyed, injured, or carried away, any tree, timber, log, wood, pole, underwood, or bark which is on the land of another person, or aid in such actions without the permission of that person or the person's agent.
II. In addition to any other civil or criminal penalty allowed by law, any person who violates the provisions in paragraph I shall forfeit to the person injured no less than 3 and not more than 10 times the market value of every such tree, timber, log, lumber, wood, pole, underwood, or bark cut, felled, destroyed, injured, or carried away.

Source. 1995, 299:1. 1998, 286:2, eff. Jan. 1, 1999. 2021, 7:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2022.

Section 227-J:8-a

    227-J:8-a Trespass; Criminal Penalty. –

[Paragraph I effective until January 1, 2022; see also paragraph I set out below.]


I. No person shall recklessly cut, fell, destroy, injure, or carry away any tree, timber, log, wood, pole, underwood, or bark which is on the land of another person, or aid in such actions without the permission of that person or the person's agent.

[Paragraph I effective January 1, 2022; see also paragraph I set out above.]


I. No person shall recklessly cut, fell, destroy, injure, carry away, or cause to be cut, felled, destroyed, injured, or carried away, any tree, timber, log, wood, pole, underwood, or bark which is on the land of another person, or aid in such actions without the permission of that person or the person's agent.
II. A person who violates the provisions of paragraph I shall be guilty of a class B felony if the loss, as determined by market value, is greater than $1,000, or a misdemeanor for any other loss.

Source. 1998, 286:3, eff. Jan. 1, 1999. 2017, 164:2, eff. Jan. 1, 2018. 2021, 7:2, eff. Jan. 1, 2022.

Section 227-J:9

    227-J:9 Cutting of Timber near Certain Waters and Public Highways of the State; Penalty. –
I. Within a 12-month period, no more than 50 percent of the basal area of trees shall be cut or otherwise felled, leaving a well distributed stand of healthy, growing trees:
(a) Within 150 feet of:
(1) Any great pond;
(2) Any standing body of water 10 acres or more in area;
(3) Any fourth order or higher stream; or
(4) Any public highway, except class VI highways, as defined in RSA 229:5, VII; or
(b) Within 50 feet of:
(1) Any stream, river, or brook not included in subparagraph (a)(3) which normally flows throughout the year; or
(2) Any standing body of water less than 10 acres in area associated with a stream, river, or brook which normally flows throughout the year.
This paragraph shall not apply if the person who pushes over, cuts, saws, or operates upon, or causes to be pushed, cut, sawed, or operated upon, any trees described in subparagraphs (a) or (b), obtains the prior written consent of the director, or of the director's agents in accordance with paragraph V.
II. Timber cutting for land conversion purposes, other than timber growing and forest uses, shall be exempt from this section if those persons intending to convert the use of the land have secured all required local permits including, but not limited to, building, subdivision or zoning permits, excavation permits, or site plan approval necessary for the use to which the land will be converted, and are able to furnish proof of such permits.
III. No person shall clear land of natural vegetation on a given lot, tract, or parcel proposed for subdivision pursuant to RSA 485-A:32, unless such subdivision plan has been submitted and approved in accordance with the requirements of RSA 485-A.
IV. Timber cutting for land conversion purposes, other than timber growing and forest uses, that does not require any local permits shall be exempt from this section if conversion occurs within 180 days of exceeding the provisions in paragraph I, or there has been prior written consent to extend the 180-day period from the director or the director's agents in accordance with paragraph V.
V. (a) Before the director grants a request to exceed the limits established in this section, the landowner or authorized agent shall demonstrate that it is necessary to exceed such limits and that any and all actions are consistent with the purposes of this chapter. The director shall provide a standard request form for this purpose. This form shall be submitted to the director or the director's agents at least 30 days prior to commencing the timber cutting operation.
(b) Failure of the division to act upon the request within 30 days shall serve as automatic approval.
VI. (a) Any person who violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
(b) Each 200 linear feet or fraction thereof of frontage on the affected great pond, any standing body of water 10 acres or more in area, fourth order stream or higher, or public highway, or any other stream, river or brook which normally flows throughout the year or standing body of water less than 10 acres in size associated with a stream, river or brook which normally flows throughout the year, from which trees are cut in excess of limits prescribed in this section shall constitute a separate offense.
VII. This section shall be enforceable by the municipality in which the land is situated; provided, however, that before initiating any enforcement action, the municipality shall notify the director, who shall take action to the extent the director deems necessary to ensure uniform statewide enforcement. If, within 10 days of notification to the director, no enforcement action has been taken by the director or the director's agent, the municipality may proceed with actions necessary to ensure compliance with the law.
VIII. Forest management not associated with shoreland development nor land conversion and conducted in compliance with the provisions of this section shall be exempt from the provisions of RSA 483-B.

Source. 1995, 299:1. 1996, 86:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1997. 2018, 137:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2019.

Section 227-J:10

    227-J:10 Care of Slash and Mill Residue; Penalty. –
Whoever pushes over, cuts, saws, or operates on or causes to be pushed over, cut, sawed, or operated on any timber, brush, lumber, or wood shall dispose of the slash and mill residue caused by such action so that slash and mill residue shall not remain:
I. In any stream, river, or brook which normally flows throughout the year or in any other standing body of water, public highway, or active railroad bed.
II. On the property of another, or in a cemetery.
III. Within 25 feet of land of another, or fourth order stream.
IV. Within 50 feet of any great pond, any standing body of water 10 acres or more in area, public highway, or active railroad bed.
V. Within 100 feet of any occupied structure as defined in RSA 635:1, III, including all barns, sheds, and other storage buildings, except a temporary lumber camp.
VI. Disposal of slash and mill residue shall be in such manner that it is disposed of within the area between 50 feet and 150 feet of any great pond, standing body of water 10 acres or more in area, or public highway so it lies on the ground and no part of the slash or residue extends more than 4 feet above the ground.
VII. If more than one of the limitations in paragraphs I-VI on the disposal of slash and mill residue shall be applicable, the most restrictive shall control.
VIII. Any person who pushes over, cuts, saws, or operates on or who causes to be pushed over, cut, sawed, or operated on any such timber, brush, lumber or wood, or any owner of land where cutting is done, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor for each 200 linear feet or fraction thereof of property boundaries, water frontage, public highway, and railroad frontage from which the slash and mill residue is not properly removed or disposed of as provided under RSA 227-J:10, I-VII, within 30 days after such cutting unless an extension is approved by the director. If the person refuses or neglects to properly remove or dispose of the slash or mill residue within the time prescribed, the person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor as provided in this paragraph for each subsequent 30-day period of refusal or neglect to so remove or dispose of such slash or mill residue.

Source. 1995, 299:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1996.

Section 227-J:11

    227-J:11 Prohibition on the Transportation of Coniferous Trees; Penalty. –
I. During the period from October 1 to December 25, inclusive, no person shall transport at any one time more than 3 coniferous trees, obtained from another, from place to place along any public highway unless the person has available for inspection evidence that the person is the owner of the trees, and can furnish the name, address, and telephone number of the person from whom the trees were obtained.
II. Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a violation.

Source. 1995, 299:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1996.

Section 227-J:12

    227-J:12 Mill Logs; Penalty. –
I. No person shall knowingly cut out or alter the mark of any mill log, or cut into any lumber or log belonging to another person, without the permission of the owner or the owner's agent.
II. In addition to any other civil or criminal penalty allowed by law, any person who violates the provisions of paragraph I shall forfeit to the person injured 10 times the market value of every such mill log or lumber, cut or altered.

Source. 1995, 299:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1996.

Section 227-J:13

    227-J:13 Damage to Fences. – Pursuant to RSA 539:3, no person shall knowingly throw down, damage, or leave open any fence, gate or bar belonging to or enclosing land held in common, or belonging to another person, or shall aid in such act, without being subject to the penalties provided in RSA 539:3.

Source. 1995, 299:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1996.

Section 227-J:14

    227-J:14 Administrative Fines. –
I. The director, with the approval of the commissioner and after notice and hearing pursuant to RSA 541-A, may impose an administrative fine not to exceed $2,000 for each offense upon any person who violates any provision of this chapter. Rehearings and appeals from a decision of the commissioner under this paragraph shall be in accordance with RSA 541. Any administrative fine imposed under this section shall not preclude the imposition of further penalties under this chapter. The commissioner shall adopt rules, under RSA 541-A, relative to:
(a) A schedule of administrative fines which may be imposed under this paragraph for violation of this chapter.
(b) Procedures for notice and hearing prior to the imposition of an administrative fine.
II. The proceeds of administrative fines levied pursuant to paragraph I shall be deposited by the commissioner into the forest management and protection fund established under RSA 227-G:5, I.

Source. 1995, 299:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1996.

Section 227-J:15

    227-J:15 Deceptive Forestry Business Practices. –
I. A person is guilty of a class B felony if the loss is greater than $1,000 or otherwise guilty of a misdemeanor who in the course of buying and selling of a forest product, as defined under RSA 227-G:4, VII, recklessly:
(a) Uses or possesses for use a false weight or measure, or any other device for falsely determining or recording any quality or quantity as provided under RSA 438; or
(b) Sells, offers, or exposes for sale or delivers less than the represented quantity of any forest product or service; or
(c) Takes or attempts to take more than the represented quantity of any forest product or service when as buyer the person furnishes the weight or measure; or
(d) Sells, offers, or exposes for sale adulterated or mislabeled commodities; or
(e) Does not remunerate the owner of the timber for the value of the forest products pursuant to a written contract; or
(f) Does not furnish the owner, upon written request, with all scale slips to verify the amount of the forest products removed from the owner's property.
II. In this section, "adulterated" means varying from a standard of composition or quality prescribed by any statute providing criminal penalties for such variance, or set by established commercial usage. In this section, "mislabeled" means varying from a standard of truth or disclosure in labeling prescribed by any law providing criminal penalties for such variance, or set by established commercial usage. In this section, "scale slip" means a written or printed form or combination of forms which provide an accurate, readily understandable record containing the species of wood product, board footage of each individual log when the standard unit of measurement is per thousand board feet, or tonnage or cordage when not sold per thousand board feet, gross scale, defect, net scale, date wood was measured, and the name of the party scaling the wood.
III. A person is guilty of a misdemeanor if, in the course of buying or selling a forest product as defined in RSA 227-G:4, VII, he or she recklessly fails to provide a written contract to the owner, prior to the cutting from the owner's property any forest products which are subject to a notice of intent to cut as defined in RSA 79:10. The contract shall be signed by both parties, specify the remuneration for the forest products to be cut, and the time in which remuneration shall be made.

Source. 1995, 299:1. 1998, 286:4. 2003, 43:2. 2007, 88:11, eff. Aug. 10, 2007.