1999 Montana Legislature

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HOUSE BILL NO. 398

INTRODUCED BY B. MOLNAR, C. AHNER, M. BRAINARD, R. BROWN, T. DELL, D. FUCHS, H. HARPER, S. KITZENBERG, B. RANEY, L. SOFT, J. WELLS



A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: "AN ACT GENERALLY REVISING FISH AND GAME LAWS; ALLOWING THE DEPARTMENT OF FISH, WILDLIFE, AND PARKS TO DEVELOP, OPERATE, AND MAINTAIN PERMANENT ACCESS TO PUBLIC LANDS; ESTABLISHING THE PUBLIC ACCESS PROGRAM; CREATING AN ACCOUNT FUNDED BY $1 FROM EACH SALE OF A RESIDENT BIG GAME HUNTING LICENSE TO BE USED AS MATCHING FUNDS BY ELIGIBLE NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS TO GAIN PERMANENT ACCESS TO PUBLIC LANDS AND TO PROVIDE, DEFEND, INVESTIGATE, PROTECT, AND ACQUIRE, BY AGREEMENT BETWEEN A WILLING SELLER AND WILLING BUYER, PUBLIC ACCESS TO PUBLIC LANDS; AMENDING SECTION 87-1-209, MCA; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE AND A TERMINATION DATE."



BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:



     Section 1.  Section 87-1-209, MCA, is amended to read:

     "87-1-209.  Acquisition and sale of lands or waters. (1) The department, with the consent of the commission and, in the case of land acquisition involving more than 100 acres or $100,000 in value, the approval of the board of land commissioners, may acquire by purchase, lease, agreement, gift, or devise and may acquire easements upon lands or waters for the purposes listed in this subsection. The department may develop, operate, and maintain acquired lands or waters:

     (a)  for fish hatcheries, nursery ponds, or game farms;

     (b)  as lands or water suitable for game, bird, fish, or fur-bearing animal restoration, propagation, or protection;

     (c)  for public hunting, fishing, or trapping areas;

     (d)  to capture, propagate, transport, buy, sell, or exchange any game, birds, fish, fish eggs, or fur-bearing animals needed for propagation or stocking purposes or to exercise control measures of undesirable species;

     (e)  for state parks and outdoor recreation;

     (f)  to extend and consolidate by exchange, lands or waters suitable for these purposes;

     (g) for acquiring permanent access to public lands for recreational purposes.

     (2)  The department, with the consent of the commission, may acquire by condemnation lands or structures for the preservation of historical or archaeological sites that are threatened with destruction or alteration.

     (3)  (a) The department, with the consent of the commission, may dispose of lands and waters acquired by it on those terms after public notice as required by subsection (3)(b), without regard to other laws that provide for sale or disposal of state lands and with or without reservation, as it considers necessary and advisable. The department, with the consent of the commission, may convey department lands and waters for full market value to other governmental entities without regard to the requirements of subsection (3)(b) or (3)(c) if the land is less than 10 acres or if the full market value of the interest to be conveyed is less than $20,000. When the department conveys land or water to another governmental entity pursuant to this subsection, the department, in addition to giving notice pursuant to subsection (3)(b), shall give notice by mail to the landowners whose property adjoins the department property being conveyed.

     (b)  Notice of sale describing the lands or waters to be disposed of must be published once a week for 3 successive weeks in a newspaper with general circulation printed and published in the county where the lands or waters are situated or, if a newspaper is not published in that county, then in any newspaper with general circulation in that county.

     (c)  The notice must advertise for cash bids to be presented to the director within 60 days from the date of the first publication. Each bid must be accompanied by a cashier's check or cash deposit in an amount equal to 10% of the amount bid. The highest bid must be accepted upon payment of the balance due within 10 days after mailing notice by certified mail to the highest bidder. If that bidder defaults on payment of the balance due, then the next highest bidders must be similarly notified in succession until a sale is completed. Deposits must be returned to the unsuccessful bidders except bidders defaulting after notification.

     (d)  The department shall reserve the right to reject any bids that do not equal or exceed the full market value of the lands and waters as determined by the department. If the department does not receive a bid that equals or exceeds fair market value, it may then sell the lands or waters at private sale. The price accepted on any private sale must exceed the highest bid rejected in the bid process.

     (4)  The department shall convey lands and waters without covenants of warranty by deed executed by the governor or in the governor's absence or disability by the lieutenant governor, attested by the secretary of state and further countersigned by the director.

     (5)  The department, with the consent of the commission, is authorized to utilize the installment contract method to facilitate the acquisition of wildlife management areas in which game and nongame fur-bearing animals and game and nongame birds may breed and replenish and areas that provide access to fishing sites for the public. The total cost of installment contracts may not exceed the cost of purchases authorized by the department and appropriated by the legislature.

     (6)  The department is authorized to enter into leases of land under its control in exchange for services to be provided by the lessee on the leased land."



     NEW SECTION.  Section 2.  Public access program. (1) The department shall administer a public access program.

     (2) The public access program must use available funding to gain permanent access to public lands pursuant to 87-1-209(1)(g) and to provide, defend, investigate, protect, and acquire, BY AGREEMENT BETWEEN A WILLING SELLER AND WILLING BUYER, public access to public lands.

     (3) Funds in the account in [section 3] must be provided to eligible nonprofit organizations as matching funds, on an equal match basis, for the purposes in subsection (2).

     (4) To qualify for matching funds, an organization must:

     (a) be registered as a nonprofit organization pursuant to applicable federal law;

     (b) have been organized for at least 3 years;

     (c) have had an active membership of at least 25 members for 3 years; and

     (d) by nature be proactive toward outdoor recreation issues.

     (5) The department shall prioritize the use of funds in the account in [section 3] as matching funds pursuant to subsection (3), but if money remains in the account in an amount that exceeds requests by nonprofit organizations during any fiscal year, the department may use the available remaining funds for its own programs to provide permanent public access.



     NEW SECTION.  Section 3.  Public access account created -- license revenue directed to fund -- expenditures for public access purposes. (1) There is an account administered by the department within the state special revenue fund established in 17-2-102.

     (2) There must be deposited in the account $1 from each resident big game license sold in this state.

     (3) The department may spend funds in the account only to carry out the program provided for in [section 2].



     NEW SECTION.  Section 4.  Codification instruction. [Sections 2 and 3] are intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 87, chapter 1, part 2, and the provisions of Title 87, chapter 1, part 2, apply to [sections 2 and 3].



     NEW SECTION.  Section 5.  Effective date. [This act] is effective July 1, 1999.



     NEW SECTION.  SECTION 6.  TERMINATION. [THIS ACT] TERMINATES JULY 1, 2004.

- END -




Latest Version of HB 398 (HB0398.02)
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