After several years of intense effort, a bill governing our public lands has been enacted, thanks to votes in the House and Senate to override the Governor’s veto of the bill. Several legislators, including my State Senator Tom Saviello, and our state’s major environmental groups, deserve credit for crafting this bill and never giving up on it. Last year, the same bill was vetoed by the Governor, and the veto override failed.
Among other things, this bill:
- Requires a detailed forest inventory of our public lands by March15, 2021.
- Requires permission of the legislature’s Appropriations Committee to spend Public Lands
- Requires annual reports to include a list and description of roads built and maintained in the preceding year, and a description of roads to be built and maintained in the next year.
- Adds forestry to the programs eligible to receive funding under the educational grant program established in the bill.
- Adds career and technical education programs to the types of programs that are eligible to apply for an educational grant related to logging and forestry.
- Removes language specifying that educational grants are only one-time grants, specifies that those grants may be given to an approved eligible educational program if funds are available and provides that the total distributions from the Public Reserved Lands Management Fund under the grant program may not exceed $300,000 in the state budget biennium.
- Requires the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over public reserved lands matters, after public input, to rank the statewide priority list of recreational infrastructure projects for the State’s public reserved lands and the statewide priority list of projects under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 for the State’s public reserved lands submitted by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Bureau of Parks and Lands and to make recommendations, if funding is available, to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over appropriations and financial affairs for funding projects.