_________ Bill No. _______
Introduced By _______________________________________________________________________________
A Bill for an Act entitled: "An Act creating dispersed camping opportunities; allowing the lease of land to provide dispersed camping opportunities; statutorily appropriating funding for the leases from 2 percent of the proceeds of the lodging facility use tax; outlining the conditions of dispersed camping, including campground specifications and posting; providing that Montana residents be allowed to access dispersed campgrounds through purchase of a conservation license and nonresidents through purchase of a conservation license and payment of a daily fee; requiring the department of fish, wildlife, and parks to respond to and prepare requests for campgrounds prior to consideration; requiring lease approval by the fish, wildlife, and parks commission; requiring the department to work with the landowner in establishing a dispersed campground and to provide basic maintenance of dispersed campgrounds; establishing lease terms and taxation provisions; amending section 15-65-121, MCA; and providing an effective date."
WHEREAS, tourism and growth have resulted in a loss of many elements of the pristine nature of the camping experience to which Montanans have been traditionally accustomed, including solitude, peace and quiet, and wide-open spaces; and
WHEREAS, natural, dispersed campgrounds with a minimum of development and congestion would provide an opportunity to recreate the kind of camping experiences to which Montanans have long been accustomed but that recently have become less available; and
WHEREAS, it is appropriate to use a percentage of the lodging facility use tax to fund leases of public or private land to provide dispersed camping opportunities.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Montana:
NEW SECTION. Section 1. Dispersed camping opportunities -- purpose -- separate accounting of funds. (1) It is the purpose of [sections 1 through 4] to establish a method whereby the state may lease public or private property for specific periods in order to provide dispersed, more pristine camping opportunities for purchasers of Montana conservation licenses.
(2) It is intended that the funding for the leases be appropriated from a percentage of the proceeds of the lodging facility use tax through a transfer to the credit of the department of fish, wildlife, and parks and that leases be considered and approved by the fish, wildlife, and parks commission after public input. Funds credited to the department pursuant to 15-65-121(1)(d) may not be commingled with other department funds or accounts. The department shall keep a separate accounting of all funds received and expended pursuant to [sections 1 through 4].
(3) It is further intended that dispersed campgrounds be developed and maintained according to the specific parameters set out in [section 1 through 4].
NEW SECTION. Section 2. Specification of dispersed campgrounds. In order to maintain as natural and pristine a camping experience as possible, the following specifications and conditions apply to any campground leased pursuant to [sections 1 through 4] and designated as a dispersed campground:
(1) A campsite within a dispersed campground must be at least 200 feet from the next nearest campsite.
(2) Campsites must be left in as natural state as possible, with development limited to fire rings, latrines, garbage collection sites, and minimal roads or trails providing access to the campsite.
(3) Signage may include only:
(a) a sign at the campground entrance stating that it is a permitted, dispersed campground;
(b) signs indicating locations of latrines and garbage collection sites;
(c) posts indicating individual campsites; and
(d) signs necessary for an adjacent landowner to indicate the boundaries of surrounding private property.
(4) Because dispersed campgrounds are not intended for motorized recreation, the use of power generators and off-highway vehicles within a dispersed campground is prohibited.
(5) Camping is limited to a stay of not more than 14 consecutive days.
NEW SECTION. Section 3. Conservation license required for campground access -- nonresident fee for daily use -- advertising prohibited. (1) Access to a dispersed campground may be gained by:
(a) a Montana resident who purchases a resident wildlife conservation license and displays the appropriate vehicle tag; or
(b) a nonresident who purchases a nonresident wildlife conservation license, displays the appropriate vehicle tag, and pays a fee of $20 a day for each nonresident camper.
(2) The department of fish, wildlife, and parks shall provide each purchaser of a Montana wildlife conservation license a map showing the locations of all dispersed campgrounds and a tag for display in a vehicle, indicating proof of purchase of a wildlife conservation license, which must be displayed at all times while camping in a dispersed campground. The department may not conduct any advertising or promotion of dispersed campgrounds.
(3) The department of fish, wildlife, and parks shall erect and maintain a collection box at each dispersed campground to facilitate collection of nonresident daily camping fees.
NEW SECTION. Section 4. Lease conditions applicable to dispersed campgrounds. (1) The department of fish, wildlife, and parks shall solicit requests from landowners who are interested in leasing public or private property for use as a dispersed campground. The department shall evaluate the requests for appropriateness as dispersed campgrounds and hold a public hearing in the area of the proposed campground to receive public comment. Following public input, the department shall submit a list of proposed dispersed campgrounds to the fish, wildlife, and parks commission.
(2) (a) The fish, wildlife, and parks commission shall review a dispersed campground proposal and, if approved, may direct the department of fish, wildlife, and parks to enter into a lease with any person or entity, including individual landowners, the bureau of land management, the U.S. forest service, or a state agency in charge of public property management, for the use of public or private property determined to be suitable for a dispersed campground, using the proceeds from the lodging facility use tax appropriated under 15-65-121(1)(d) to fund the lease. A lease may be granted for a period up to 10 years and may be extended by mutual agreement of the parties.
(b) In the case of a lease entered with the bureau of land management, the U.S. forest service, or another federal agency, provisions establishing camping fees must be included in the lease.
(3) If the fish, wildlife, and parks commission approves a lease of private property, the lessor remains responsible for the payment of property taxes on the property. The fee in lieu of tax must be paid on the property in the case of a lease of public property.
(4) The lessor is responsible for maintaining adequate insurance on the property during the term of the lease. The restriction on liability of a landowner, agent, or tenant that is provided under 70-16-302(1) applies to a landowner who leases property for a dispersed campground.
(5) Once a lease is entered, the department of fish, wildlife, and parks shall work with the lessor in establishing appropriate camping sites and access trails or roads; locating latrines, garbage collection sites, and fire rings; and placing appropriate signs. Once established, the department is responsible for maintenance of the campground, including latrine maintenance and litter and garbage collection, for the duration of the lease.
(6) When appropriate, a lease may contain a provision allowing for a county sheriff to patrol the campground and for a stipend to be expended from the lease proceeds to pay the sheriff's costs.
Section 5. Section 15-65-121, MCA, is amended to read:
"15-65-121. Distribution of tax proceeds -- general fund loan authority. (1) The proceeds of the tax imposed by
15-65-111 must, in accordance with the provisions of 15-1-501, be deposited in an account in the state special revenue fund
to the credit of the department of revenue. The department may spend from that account in accordance with an expenditure
appropriation by the legislature based on an estimate of the costs of collecting and disbursing the proceeds of the tax.
Before allocating the balance of the tax proceeds in accordance with the provisions of 15-1-501 and as provided in
subsections (1)(a) through
(1)(e) (1)(f) of this section, the department shall determine the expenditures by state agencies for
in-state lodging for each reporting period and deduct 4% of that amount from the tax proceeds received each reporting
period. The amount deducted must be deposited in the general fund. The balance of the tax proceeds received each
reporting period and not deducted pursuant to the expenditure appropriation or deposited in the general fund is statutorily
appropriated, as provided in 17-7-502, and must be transferred to an account in the state special revenue fund to the credit
of the department of commerce for tourism promotion and promotion of the state as a location for the production of motion
pictures and television commercials, to the Montana historical society, to the university system, and to the department of
fish, wildlife, and parks, as follows:
(a) 1% to the Montana historical society to be used for the installation or maintenance of roadside historical signs and historic sites;
(b) 2.5% to the university system for the establishment and maintenance of a Montana travel research program;
(c) 6.5% to the department of fish, wildlife, and parks for the maintenance of facilities in state parks that have both resident and nonresident use;
(d) 2% to the department of fish, wildlife, and parks for the financing of leases to establish dispersed campgrounds pursuant to [sections 1 through 4], including site preparation for and maintenance of dispersed campgrounds and the payment of administrative expenses directly related to [sections 1 through 4];
67.5% 65.5% to be used directly by the department of commerce; and (e) (i)(f) (i) except as provided in subsection (1)(e)(ii) (1)(f)(ii), 22.5% to be distributed by the department to regional
nonprofit tourism corporations in the ratio of the proceeds collected in each tourism region to the total proceeds collected
(ii) if 22.5% of the proceeds collected annually within the limits of a city or consolidated city-county exceeds $35,000, 50% of the amount available for distribution to the regional nonprofit tourism corporation in the region where the city or consolidated city-county is located, to be distributed to the nonprofit convention and visitors bureau in that city or consolidated city-county.
(2) If a city or consolidated city-county qualifies under this section for funds but fails to either recognize a nonprofit convention and visitors bureau or submit and gain approval for an annual marketing plan as required in 15-65-122, then those funds must be allocated to the regional nonprofit tourism corporation in the region in which the city or consolidated city-county is located.
(3) If a regional nonprofit tourism corporation fails to submit and gain approval for an annual marketing plan as required in 15-65-122, then those funds otherwise allocated to the regional nonprofit tourism corporation may be used by the department of commerce for tourism promotion and promotion of the state as a location for the production of motion pictures and television commercials."
NEW SECTION. Section 6. Effective date. [This act] is effective July 1, 1997.