Privately owned forest, farm and open space lands offer many environmental benefits and contribute to the rural character present in much of Thurston County. To encourage the protection of these lands, the Washington State Legislature approved two voluntary programs which provide tax breaks to property owners who preserve farmland, forestland, and open space by valuing property based on its current use, rather than its "highest and best" use.
Since 1990, the total acreage enrolled in open space and forest land tax programs has fallen from 182,059 acres to 162,890 acres.
Designated Forest Land The Designated Forest Land Program encourages the protection of forest land in Washington state by lowering taxes on properties meeting specific requirements. In 2019, 124,453 acres of land were enrolled in the Designated Forest Land program in Thurston County.
Open Space Taxation Act The 1970 Open Space Taxation Act provides tax relief for property in three classes of land: open space, farm and agriculture land, and timber land. In 2019, 38,438 acres of land were enrolled in the Open Space Tax Program in Thurston County.