Florida Senate - 2017 SB 1304 By Senator Stewart 13-00669B-17 20171304__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to Florida black bears; creating s. 3 379.3018, F.S.; providing a short title; defining 4 terms; providing legislative findings and intent; 5 requiring the Fish and Wildlife Conservation 6 Commission, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer 7 Services, and the Department of Environmental 8 Protection to coordinate certain duties and 9 responsibilities to protect Florida black bears and to 10 preserve their habitat; establishing a Bear-Resistant 11 Garbage Container Account within the Nongame Wildlife 12 Trust Fund; requiring the commission to establish a 13 process by rule through which certain county and 14 municipal governments may apply for and obtain funds 15 to purchase bear-resistant garbage containers; 16 requiring burn schedules for state forests and parks 17 containing Florida black bear habitat to be adjusted 18 to meet certain conditions; prohibiting state agencies 19 from conducting or causing to be conducted roller 20 chopping of saw palmettos in Florida black bear 21 habitat; prohibiting the sale of timbering rights to 22 certain trees in state forests and parks that contain 23 Florida black bear habitat; requiring the commission 24 to adopt rules establishing standards for the 25 designation of Florida black bear habitat and areas of 26 human-bear conflict; requiring the commission, in 27 coordination with the Department of Agriculture and 28 Consumer Services and the Department of Environmental 29 Protection, to designate areas of the state as Florida 30 black bear habitat and identify state lands containing 31 such habitat and areas of human-bear conflict by a 32 specific date; requiring periodic review of the 33 designations by the commission and agencies; requiring 34 that specified information be posted and maintained on 35 the commission website; prohibiting the recreational 36 hunting of Florida black bears for a specified period; 37 requiring the commission to conduct a Florida black 38 bear population trend study; prohibiting the 39 harvesting of saw palmetto berries on state lands 40 identified as Florida black bear habitat; providing 41 penalties; requiring purchasers to obtain sales 42 certificates for purchases of specified amounts of saw 43 palmetto berries; requiring harvesters to provide such 44 certificates to initial purchasers; specifying the 45 requirements of such certificates; requiring the 46 certificate to accompany the berries from harvesting 47 until delivery to the final processor or wholesaler; 48 requiring the Commissioner of Agriculture to prescribe 49 the form of the certificates; providing penalties; 50 amending s. 590.125, F.S.; requiring that before 51 conducting prescribed burns in Florida black bear 52 habitats during certain periods, a certification must 53 be obtained that certain female Florida black bears 54 with juvenile offspring are unlikely to be denning in 55 the burn site; providing an effective date. 56 57 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 58 59 Section 1. Section 379.3018, Florida Statutes, is created 60 to read: 61 379.3018 Florida black bear habitat restoration.— 62 (1) SHORT TITLE.—This section may be cited as the “Florida 63 Black Bear Habitat Restoration Act.” 64 (2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term: 65 (a) “Bear-resistant garbage containers” means receptacles 66 used for storage of garbage on residential properties which have 67 the design and structure to significantly impede access to the 68 contents by bears. 69 (b) “Coordinating agencies” means the Fish and Wildlife 70 Conservation Commission, the Department of Agriculture and 71 Consumer Services, and the Department of Environmental 72 Protection. 73 (c) “Florida black bear” means the subspecies Ursus 74 americanus floridanus. 75 (d) “Florida black bear habitat” means the portions of this 76 state, as identified by the coordinating agencies, meeting the 77 standards set forth in subsection (8). 78 (e) “Human-bear conflicts” means interactions between 79 humans and bears which lead to negative consequences. 80 (f) “State lands” means all lands under public ownership or 81 control, including state forests, state parks, and conservation 82 easements authorized by the state. 83 (3) FINDINGS AND INTENT.—The Legislature finds that the 84 commission has jurisdiction over the state’s wildlife and 85 certain areas of wildlife habitat, that the Department of 86 Agriculture and Consumer Services has jurisdiction over 1 87 million acres of state forests, that the Department of 88 Environmental Protection has jurisdiction over the state’s 174 89 state parks, and that both state forests and state parks 90 constitute prime habitat for the Florida black bear. The 91 Legislature also finds that there is a need for interagency 92 coordination to preserve the habitat of the Florida black bear 93 as a lack of coordination has resulted in an increase in human 94 bear conflicts. In order to provide for public safety, it is the 95 intent of the Legislature to enact measures to ensure the 96 restoration of the Florida black bear’s habitat and thereby 97 reduce the number of human-bear conflicts. 98 (4) POWERS AND DUTIES.—Except as otherwise provided, the 99 coordinating agencies shall administer and enforce this section 100 and all rules and orders adopted or issued under this section. 101 (5) BEAR-RESISTANT GARBAGE CONTAINER ACCOUNT.—The Bear 102 Resistant Garbage Container Account is established within the 103 Nongame Wildlife Trust Fund, subject to appropriation by the 104 Legislature of at least $1 million. The commission shall 105 establish a process by rule through which county and municipal 106 governments located in counties that include areas designated 107 pursuant to subsection (8) as being prone to human-bear 108 conflicts may apply for funds to be used in the purchase of 109 bear-resistant garbage containers. 110 (6) BURN SCHEDULE AND ROLLER-CHOPPING.— 111 (a) Burn schedules for state forests and state parks 112 identified as including Florida black bear habitat must be 113 adjusted to allow for the regrowth of oak trees, saw palmettos, 114 and other berry-producing plants that supply the Florida black 115 bear with sufficient natural food to the extent that, after such 116 regrowth, the species is not compelled to enter residential 117 areas in search of food. 118 (b) A state agency may not conduct or cause to be conducted 119 roller-chopping of saw palmettos in Florida black bear habitat. 120 (7) SALE OF TIMBERING RIGHTS ON STATE LANDS.—The sale of 121 timbering rights to acorn-producing oak trees in all state 122 forests and state parks that are identified as including Florida 123 black bear habitat is prohibited. 124 (8) IDENTIFICATION OF FLORIDA BLACK BEAR HABITAT.— 125 (a) By July 1, 2018, the commission shall establish by rule 126 standards for the designation of specific areas of the state as 127 Florida black bear habitat and shall identify areas prone to 128 human-bear conflicts. 129 (b) By February 1, 2019, the commission, in coordination 130 with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the 131 Department of Environmental Protection, shall designate areas of 132 the state as Florida black bear habitat and identify all state 133 lands that contain such habitat. The commission shall also 134 identify areas affected by human-bear conflicts. The commission 135 shall apply the standards developed pursuant to paragraph (a) in 136 making these determinations, which must be reviewed and, if 137 necessary, revised by the coordinating agencies at least once 138 every 3 years. 139 (c) The commission shall post and maintain on its website 140 the current list of the areas of the state which are designated 141 as Florida black bear habitat and the state lands that contain 142 such habitat. 143 (9) MORATORIUM ON RECREATIONAL BEAR HUNTING; STUDY.— 144 (a) The recreational hunting of Florida black bears is 145 prohibited in this state until July 1, 2027. 146 (b) The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 147 shall conduct a 5-year population trend study of the Florida 148 black bear which includes an analysis of the potential impact of 149 Florida black bear hunting using biological stock assessment of 150 the species. 151 (10) SAW PALMETTO BERRY HARVESTING.— 152 (a) Permits to harvest saw palmetto berries may not be 153 issued for any state lands identified as including Florida black 154 bear habitat. 155 (b) A person unlawfully harvesting saw palmetto berries on 156 state lands commits theft, punishable as provided in s. 812.014. 157 (11) PURCHASE OF SAW PALMETTO BERRIES.— 158 (a) Every initial purchaser of more than one bushel or 159 crate of saw palmetto berries shall obtain a sales certificate 160 from the harvester, who must prepare and furnish such 161 certificates. The sales certificate must accompany the berries 162 from the point of harvesting to the final processor or the 163 wholesaler who will offer the berries for retail sale. Such 164 processor or wholesaler shall keep the sales certificate for 1 165 year after date of purchase and shall produce the certificate 166 for inspection upon request by a peace officer. 167 (b) The sales certificate must include: 168 1. The quantity of berries purchased; 169 2. The name, address, and telephone number of the harvester 170 from whom the berries were purchased; 171 3. The name and address of the property where the berries 172 were harvested, and contact information for the owner or manager 173 of the property; and 174 4. For the initial purchaser and each subsequent purchaser, 175 his or her name, address, and telephone number, and the date 176 that he or she purchased the berries. 177 (c) The harvester and initial purchaser shall each keep a 178 copy of the sales certificate for 1 year after the date of the 179 initial purchase. The Commissioner of Agriculture shall 180 prescribe the form of sales certificates required by this 181 subsection. 182 (d) A person who violates this subsection commits a 183 misdemeanor of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 184 775.082 or s. 775.083. 185 Section 2. Paragraph (b) of subsection (3) of section 186 590.125, Florida Statutes, is amended to read: 187 590.125 Open burning authorized by the Florida Forest 188 Service.— 189 (3) CERTIFIED PRESCRIBED BURNING; LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND 190 PURPOSE.— 191 (b) Certified prescribed burning pertains only to broadcast 192 burning for purposes of silviculture, wildland fire hazard 193 reduction, wildlife management, ecological maintenance and 194 restoration, and agriculture. It must be conducted in accordance 195 with this subsection and: 196 1. May be accomplished only when a certified prescribed 197 burn manager is present on site with a copy of the prescription 198 and directly supervises the certified prescribed burn until the 199 burn is completed, after which the certified prescribed burn 200 manager is not required to be present. 201 2. Requires that a written prescription be prepared before 202 receiving authorization to burn from the Florida Forest Service. 203 a. A new prescription or authorization is not required for 204 smoldering that occurs within the authorized burn area unless 205 new ignitions are conducted by the certified prescribed burn 206 manager. 207 b. Monitoring the smoldering activity of a certified 208 prescribed burn does not require a prescription or an additional 209 authorization even if flames begin to spread within the 210 authorized burn area due to ongoing smoldering. 211 3. Requires that the specific consent of the landowner or 212 his or her designee be obtained before requesting an 213 authorization. 214 4. Requires that an authorization to burn be obtained from 215 the Florida Forest Service before igniting the burn. 216 5. Requires that there be adequate firebreaks at the burn 217 site and sufficient personnel and firefighting equipment to 218 contain the fire within the authorized burn area. 219 a. Fire spreading outside the authorized burn area on the 220 day of the certified prescribed burn ignition does not 221 constitute conclusive proof of inadequate firebreaks, 222 insufficient personnel, or a lack of firefighting equipment. 223 b. If the certified prescribed burn is contained within the 224 authorized burn area during the authorized period, a strong 225 rebuttable presumption shall exist that adequate firebreaks, 226 sufficient personnel, and sufficient firefighting equipment were 227 present. 228 c. Continued smoldering of a certified prescribed burn 229 resulting in a subsequent wildfire does not by itself constitute 230 evidence of gross negligence under this section. 231 6. Is considered to be in the public interest and does not 232 constitute a public or private nuisance when conducted under 233 applicable state air pollution statutes and rules. 234 7. Is considered to be a property right of the property 235 owner if vegetative fuels are burned as required in this 236 subsection. 237 8. Requires that, for any prescribed burn to be conducted 238 in Florida black bear habitat, as designated by the Fish and 239 Wildlife Conservation Commission pursuant to s. 379.3018, during 240 months when female bears with juvenile offspring are likely 241 denning in such habitat, a certification must be obtained from 242 the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission that it is 243 unlikely, based on the commission’s best knowledge, that adult 244 female bears with juvenile offspring are denning in the burn 245 site. Such certification must be obtained before igniting the 246 burn. 247 Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2017.