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.
   57  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.—
  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.