House Bill No. 73
Introduced By mood
By Request of the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation
A Bill for an Act entitled: "An Act transferring rulemaking authority from the state board of land commissioners to the department of natural resources and conservation to ensure that rulemaking authority for fire protection, protection of forest resources, fire protection services, and control of timber and debris is consistent with rulemaking authority in the department's other forestry programs; clarifying the responsibilities of the department concerning the protection of forest resources, the provisions for fire protection services, and the control of timber slash and debris; amending sections 76-11-101, 76-13-102, 76-13-103, 76-13-109, 76-13-112, 76-13-201, 76-13-204, 76-13-205, 76-13-403, 76-13-408, and 76-13-414, MCA; and providing an immediate effective date."
STATEMENT OF INTENT
A statement of intent is required for this bill because [section 4] transfers rulemaking authority from the state board of land commissioners to the department of natural resources and conservation. It is the intent of [section 4] to transfer the administration of protection of natural resources from fire, protection of forest resources, fire protection services, and control of timber slash and debris from the state board of land commissioners to the department of natural resources and conservation.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Montana:
Section 1. Section 76-11-101, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-11-101. Protection of natural resources from fire. The department of natural resources and conservation
rules adopted by the state board of land commissioners, shall adopt rules to protect the natural resources of the state,
especially the natural resources owned by the state, from destruction by fire and for that purpose, in emergencies, may
employ personnel and incur other expenses when necessary."
Section 2. Section 76-13-102, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-13-102. Definitions. Unless the context requires otherwise, in part 2 and this part, the following definitions apply:
(1) "Board" means the board of land commissioners provided for in Article X, section 4, of the Montana constitution.
(2) "Conservation" means the protection and wise use of forest, forest range, forest water, and forest soil resources in keeping with the common welfare of the people of this state.
(3) "Department" means the department of natural resources and conservation provided for in Title 2, chapter 15, part 33.
(4) "Forest fire" means a fire burning uncontrolled on forest lands.
(5) "Forest fire protection" means the work of prevention, detection, and suppression of forest fires and includes training required to perform those functions.
(6) "Forest fire protection district" means a definite forest land area, the boundaries of which are fixed and in which forest
fire protection is provided through the medium of an agency recognized by the
(7) "Forest fire season" means the period of each year beginning May 1 and ending September 30, inclusive.
(8) "Forest land" means land that has enough timber, standing or down, slash, or brush to constitute in the judgment of the department a fire menace to life or property. Grassland and agricultural areas are included when those areas are intermingled with or contiguous to and no further than one-half mile from areas of forest land.
(9) (a) "Forest practices" means the harvesting of trees, road construction or reconstruction associated with harvesting and accessing trees, site preparation for regeneration of a timber stand, reforestation, and the management of logging slash.
(b) The term does not include activities for the purpose of:
(i) the operation of a nursery or Christmas tree farm;
(ii) the harvest of Christmas trees;
(iii) the harvest of firewood; or
(iv) the cutting of trees for personal use by an owner or operator.
(10) "Lands" for conservation purposes means all forest lands within this state that are officially classified by the department as forest lands under 76-13-107.
(11) "Operator" means a person responsible for conducting forest practices. An operator may be the owner, the owner's agent, or a person who, through contractual agreement with the landowner, is obligated to or entitled to conduct forest practices or to carry out a timber sale.
(12) "Owner" means the person, firm, association, or corporation having the actual, beneficial ownership of forest land or timber other than an easement, right-of-way, or mineral reservation.
(13) "Person" means an individual, corporation, partnership, or association of any kind.
(14) "Recognized agency" means an agency organized for the purpose of providing forest fire protection and recognized by
board department as giving adequate fire protection to forest lands in accordance with rules adopted by the board
(15) "Timber sale" means a series of forest practices designed to access, harvest, and regenerate trees on a defined land area."
Section 3. Section 76-13-103, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-13-103. Applicability. This part and part 2 apply to all forest lands within this state
which that are officially
classified by the board department as forest lands according to the definition of forest land in 76-13-102."
Section 4. Section 76-13-109, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-13-109. Rules. The
board department may adopt and enforce through the department reasonable rules for the purpose
of enforcing and accomplishing the provisions and purposes of this part and part 2."
Section 5. Section 76-13-112, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-13-112. Penalty for violation. Unless otherwise provided by this part or part 2, a person who violates this part or part
2 or any rule adopted
by the board or department pursuant to this part or part 2 is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be
punished by a fine of not more than $500 or imprisonment in a county jail for not more than 6 months or both."
Section 6. Section 76-13-201, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-13-201. Duty of owner to protect against fire. (1) An owner of forest land classified as such by the department shall
protect against the starting or existence and suppress the spread of fire on that land. This protection and suppression
must be in conformity with reasonable rules and standards for adequate fire protection adopted by the board department.
(2) If the owner does not provide for the protection and suppression, the department may provide it at a cost to the landowner of not more than $30 for each landowner in the protection district and of not more than an additional 20 cents per acre per year for each acre in excess of 20 acres owned by each landowner in each protection district, as necessary to yield the amount of money provided for in 76-13-207. The owner of the land shall pay to the county treasurer of the county in which the land is situated the charge for the same approved by the department in accordance with this part and part 1.
(3) No other charges may be assessed those landowners participating except in cases of proven negligence on the part of
the landowner or
his the landowner's agent."
Section 7. Section 76-13-204, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-13-204. Creation, annexation of land into, and dissolution of forest fire protection districts. (1) In accordance
with the provisions of subsections (2) and (3), the
board department may create, annex land to, or dissolve forest fire
(2) Before a district is created, land is annexed into a district, or a district is dissolved, the
board department shall hold a
hearing in any county in which land affected by the proposed change is located.
(a) The department shall give notice at least 20 days in advance of the hearing to all property owners to be affected by the proposed change. Service of the notice may be made by certified mail to each affected property owner or by publication of the notice in a newspaper published or generally circulated in the county in which the hearing is to be held.
(b) The department shall
report to the board consider the arguments made for and against the proposed change and shall
make a recommendation to the board in making a determination under this section.
(3) (a) A forest fire protection district may not be created or dissolved unless approved in writing by a vote of not less than 51% of the owners representing at least 51% of the acreage to be involved in the affected forest fire protection district.
(b) Land may not be annexed into a district unless approved by 51% of the owners representing at least 51% of the acreage to be annexed.
(4) Land annexed into a district may not be removed from that district unless that district is dissolved."
Section 8. Section 76-13-205, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-13-205. Determination of boundaries of district. In establishing boundaries of organized forest fire protection
districts covering forest lands, the
board department may for the purpose of administrative convenience designate
recognizable landmarks as boundaries."
Section 9. Section 76-13-403, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-13-403. Supervision by department. The department
, under rules adopted by the board, may adopt and enforce rules
to supervise and inspect the fire hazard reduction or management of all fire hazards created by forest products harvesting,
timber stand improvement, and right-of-way clearing on private land in the state."
Section 10. Section 76-13-408, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-13-408. Fire hazard reduction agreement and bond. (1) Before cutting any forest product, constructing or
reconstructing any road in contemplation of cutting any forest product, or conducting timber stand improvement, such as
but not limited to thinning, weeding, or pruning, upon private lands within the state, the person conducting the work shall
provide for the reduction or management of the fire hazard to be created by entering into a fire hazard reduction agreement
or a master fire hazard reduction agreement with the department, providing for the full and faithful compliance with all
requirements under this part and the faithful reduction or management of the fire hazard in the manner prescribed by law
and by rules adopted
by the board under this part.
(2) Either the person conducting the work or the purchaser, as provided in 76-13-409(2), shall post a bond to the state in a form and for an amount as may be prescribed by the department, but the amount may not exceed $6 for each 1,000 board feet (log scale) or the equivalent if forest products other than logs are cut.
(3) Either the person conducting the work or the purchaser, as provided in 76-13-409(2), shall pay 15 cents for each 1,000 board feet (log scale) or equivalent measure if forest products other than logs are cut. The assessment may not exceed $20,000 a year. The full amount of this money must be deposited in the forestry extension service account provided for in 76-13-415.
(4) The agreement must provide that:
(a) all fire hazard reduction or management work comprising nonburning methods and preparations for burning must be completed within 18 months of commencement of cutting in the area covered by the agreement; and
(b) all burning work must be completed as specified in the agreement and in compliance with rules adopted
by the board
under this part.
(5) The bond must be released upon the issuance of the certificate of clearance."
Section 11. Section 76-13-414, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-13-414. Fees. (1) In addition to any bond, the department shall charge the contractor fees for administration, inspections, and enforcement work conducted in the exercise of its duties under this part. The fees must be deposited in the state special revenue fund to the credit of the department.
(2) (a) The fee for a fire hazard reduction agreement is $25 and must be collected by the department upon issuance of the agreement.
(b) In addition, a fee of 60 cents for each 1,000 board feet (log scale) must be charged or an equivalent fee must be charged if products other than logs are cut. This fee must be withheld by the purchaser as provided in 76-13-409(2), except that any fee money withheld for product volumes exceeding 500,000 board feet per agreement in a calendar year must be returned to the contractor by the department.
(3) (a) The fee for master fire hazard reduction agreements must be equal to 100% of the department's actual costs incurred
in the administration, inspection, and enforcement of each agreement, and the department shall bill the contractor annually
such the fees.
(b) In addition, each contractor with a master fire hazard reduction agreement shall pay to the department 15 cents for each 1,000 board feet (log scale) or equivalent measure if forest products other than logs are cut. The assessment may not exceed $20,000 a year for each master fire hazard attachment. The full amount of this money must be deposited in the forestry extension service account provided for in 76-13-415.
(c) The fee required under subsection (3)(b) must be paid annually in conjunction with the fee paid under subsection (3)(a).
board department may, in its discretion, conduct an audit to determine the volume of forest products harvested by a
contractor. If the board department conducts an audit, the contractor shall cooperate and make available to the board
department all requested records, inventories, and other information relevant to the audit."
NEW SECTION. Section 12. Effective date. [This act] is effective on passage and approval.