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.
   34  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   36         Section 1. Section 379.3018, Florida Statutes, is created
   37  to read:
   38         379.3018Florida 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.
   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.
  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.