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HOUSE BILL NO. 458
INTRODUCED BY K. OHS, H. HARPER, K. GILLAN, B. TASH
AN ACT ADDING ASSISTANCE WITH INTERAGENCY COORDINATION TO THE WATER POLICY DUTIES OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY COUNCIL; TEMPORARILY REQUIRING THE COUNCIL TO COORDINATE THE COMPILATION, EVALUATION, AND DISSEMINATION OF EDUCATIONAL INFORMATION RELATED TO BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES FOR STREAMSIDE CORRIDORS AND RIPARIAN MANAGEMENT; AMENDING SECTION 85-2-105, MCA; AND PROVIDING A TERMINATION DATE.
WHEREAS, Montana's river and stream corridors and associated riparian areas play a critical role in supporting beneficial uses of water, agricultural production, fish and wildlife values, recreation opportunities, and related economic and aesthetic benefits; and
WHEREAS, Montana's river and stream corridors are experiencing tremendous pressure from increased use and development; and
WHEREAS, owners of land along Montana's rivers and streams, water users, and recreationists recognize the importance of maintaining and conserving these corridors and would increase their efforts to do so if they had information on relevant and affordable voluntary best management practices (BMPs); and
WHEREAS, although there are a variety of efforts at the federal, state, local, and watershed levels to address river and stream corridor issues, there is a continuing need to pool scarce resources, increase effectiveness through improved coordination of policies, data, and implementation, and provide a greater opportunity for innovative solutions such as voluntary BMPs; and
WHEREAS, Montana is fortunate to have a successful BMP and streamside management policy model that was developed by Montana's forestry community, with the assistance of the Environmental Quality Council, that can serve as an example for other river and streamside land uses; and
WHEREAS, the Montana Legislature's bipartisan Environmental Quality Council has a 28-year history of helping Montanans constructively solve complex and divisive natural resource issues and has the capability and the unique perspective to facilitate the compilation and dissemination of BMP information for river and streamside land uses and to assist with interagency coordination.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
Section 1. Section 85-2-105, MCA, is amended to read:
"85-2-105. Environmental quality council -- water policy duties. (1) The environmental quality council shall meet as often as necessary, including during the interim between sessions, to perform the duties specified within this section.
(2) On a continuing basis, the environmental quality council shall:
(a) advise the legislature on the adequacy of the state's water policy and on important state, regional, national, and international developments that affect Montana's water resources;
(b) oversee the policies and activities of the department, other state executive agencies, and other state institutions as those policies and activities affect the water resources of the state;
(c) assist with interagency coordination related to Montana's water resources; and
(c)(d) communicate with the public on matters of water policy as well as the water resources of the state.
(3) On a regular basis, the environmental quality council shall:
(a) analyze and comment on the state water plan required by 85-1-203, when filed by the department;
(b) analyze and comment on the report of the status of the state's renewable resource grant and loan program required by 85-1-621, when filed by the department;
(c) analyze and comment on water-related research undertaken by any state agency, institution, college, or university;
(d) analyze, verify, and comment on the adequacy of and information contained in the water information system maintained by the natural resource information system under 90-15-305; and
(e) report to the legislature as provided in 5-11-210.
(4) The legislative services division shall provide staff assistance to the environmental quality council to carry out its water policy duties."
Section 2. Streamside corridor and riparian management -- coordination and dissemination of best management practice information. Consistent with its authorities set forth in Titles 75 and 85, the environmental quality council, in cooperation with affected and interested stakeholders, shall:
(1) review and summarize state, federal, and local policies and programs related to streamside corridor and riparian management in Montana and identify overlapping or conflicting goals or implementation mechanisms;
(2) coordinate with existing groups to evaluate existing streamside and riparian best management practices and existing educational and informational programs regarding the dissemination of information regarding voluntary BMPs, to ensure coordination in water quality protection efforts and consistency with 75-5-702 and 75-5-703; and
(3) coordinate with others to develop cost-effective mechanisms to compile and disseminate the conclusions from activities conducted pursuant to subsections (1) and (2) and in doing so, maximize the likely implementation of the practices.
Section 3. Termination. [Section 2] terminates December 31, 2000.
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Latest Version of HB 458 (HB0458.ENR)
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