Florida Senate - 2016 SB 1096 By Senator Soto 14-01039-16 20161096__ 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 enforce certain provisions, adopted 9 rules, and issue orders; creating a Bear-Resistant 10 Garbage Container Account within the Nongame Wildlife 11 Trust Fund; requiring the commission to establish a 12 process by rule through which certain county and 13 municipal governments may apply for and obtain loans 14 to purchase bear-resistant garbage containers; 15 prohibiting the harvesting of saw palmetto berries on 16 state lands identified as Florida black bear habitat; 17 requiring burn schedules for state forests and parks 18 containing Florida black bear habitat to be adjusted 19 to meet certain conditions; prohibiting the sale of 20 timber rights to certain trees in state forests and 21 parks that contain Florida black bear habitat; 22 requiring the commission to adopt rules establishing 23 standards for the designation of Florida black bear 24 habitat and areas of human-bear conflict; requiring 25 the commission, in coordination with specified 26 agencies applying the standards, to designate areas of 27 the state as Florida black bear habitat and identify 28 state lands containing such habitat and areas of 29 human-bear conflict; requiring periodic review of the 30 designations by the commission and agencies; requiring 31 that specified information be posted and maintained on 32 the commission website; providing an effective date. 33 34 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 35 36 Section 1. Section 379.3018, Florida Statutes, is created 37 to read: 38 379.3018 Florida black bear restoration.— 39 (1) SHORT TITLE.—This section may be cited as the “Florida 40 Black Bear Habitat Restoration Act.” 41 (2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term: 42 (a) “Bear-resistant garbage containers” means receptacles 43 used for storage of garbage on residential properties which have 44 the design and structure to significantly impede access to the 45 contents by bears. 46 (b) “Coordinating agencies” means the Fish and Wildlife 47 Conservation Commission, the Department of Agriculture and 48 Consumer Services, and the Department of Environmental 49 Protection. 50 (c) “Florida black bear” means the subspecies Ursus 51 americanus floridanus. 52 (d) “Florida black bear habitat” means the portions of this 53 state, as identified by the coordinating agencies, meeting the 54 standards set forth in subsection (9). 55 (e) “Human-bear conflicts” means interactions between 56 humans and bears which lead to negative consequences. 57 (f) “State lands” means all lands under public ownership or 58 control, including state forests, state parks, and conservation 59 easements authorized by the state. 60 (3) FINDINGS AND INTENT.—The Legislature finds that the 61 commission has jurisdiction over the state’s wildlife and 62 certain areas of wildlife habitat, the Department of Agriculture 63 and Consumer Services has jurisdiction over 1 million acres of 64 state forests, and the Department of Environmental Protection 65 has jurisdiction over this state’s 174 state parks. Both state 66 forests and state parks constitute prime habitat for the Florida 67 black bear. The Legislature also finds that there has been a 68 lack of interagency coordination to preserve the habitat for the 69 Florida black bear. This lack of coordination has resulted in an 70 increase in human-bear conflicts. In order to provide for public 71 safety, it is the intent of the Legislature to enact measures to 72 ensure the restoration of the Florida black bear’s habitat and 73 thereby reduce the number of human-bear conflicts. 74 (4) POWERS AND DUTIES.—Except as otherwise provided, the 75 coordinating agencies shall administer and enforce the 76 provisions of this section and all rules and orders adopted or 77 issued under this section. 78 (5) BEAR-RESISTANT GARBAGE CONTAINER ACCOUNT.—The Bear 79 Resistant Garbage Container Account is established within the 80 Nongame Wildlife Trust Fund, subject to appropriation by the 81 Legislature of at least $50 million. The commission shall 82 establish a process by rule through which county and municipal 83 governments located in counties that include areas designated 84 pursuant to subsection (9) as being prone to human-bear 85 conflicts may borrow money necessary to purchase and distribute 86 bear-resistant garbage containers to all residences in such 87 areas. The rate of interest on such loans shall be based upon 88 the Federal Funds Rate in effect on the effective date of this 89 act, adjusted annually thereafter on July 1. 90 (6) SAW PALMETTO BERRY HARVESTING.—Permits to harvest saw 91 palmetto berries may not be issued for any state lands 92 identified as including Florida black bear habitat. 93 (7) BURN SCHEDULE.—Burn schedules for state forests and 94 state parks identified as including Florida black bear habitat 95 shall be adjusted to allow for the regrowth of oak trees, saw 96 palmettos, and other berry-producing plants that supply the 97 Florida black bear with sufficient natural food to the extent 98 that the species would not be otherwise compelled to enter 99 residential areas in search of food. 100 (8) SALE OF TIMBERING RIGHTS ON STATE LANDS.—The sale of 101 timbering rights to acorn-producing oak trees in all state 102 forests and state parks that are identified as including Florida 103 black bear habitat is prohibited. 104 (9) IDENTIFICATION OF FLORIDA BLACK BEAR HABITAT.— 105 (a) By July 1, 2017, the commission shall establish by rule 106 standards for the designation of specific areas of this state as 107 Florida black bear habitat and areas of human-bear conflict. 108 (b) By February 1, 2018, the commission, in coordination 109 with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the 110 Department of Environmental Protection, shall designate areas of 111 the state as Florida black bear habitat and identify all state 112 lands that contain such habitat. The commission shall also 113 identify areas affected by human-bear conflicts. The commission 114 shall apply the standards developed pursuant to paragraph (a) in 115 making these determinations, which must be reviewed and, if 116 necessary, revised by the coordinating agencies at least once 117 every 3 years. 118 (c) The commission shall post and maintain on its website 119 the current list of the areas of the state which are designated 120 as Florida black bear habitat and the state lands that contain 121 such habitat. 122 Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2016.