S.P. 157 - L.D. 477
An Act to Establish Standards and Conditions for Designation of Ecological Reserves on Lands Managed by the Bureau of Parks and Lands
Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:
Sec. 1. 5 MRSA §13076, sub-§3, ¶F is enacted to read:
F. The Natural Resources Information and Mapping Center shall maintain a database of areas designated as ecological reserves as defined in Title 12, section 1801, subsection 4-A and other public lands designated and managed for equivalent purposes and shall provide scientific review of areas on state land proposed as ecological reserves.
Sec. 2. 12 MRSA §1801, sub-§4-A is enacted to read:
4-A. Ecological reserve. "Ecological reserve" means an area owned or leased by the State, under the jurisdiction of the bureau, designated by the director for the purpose of maintaining one or more natural community types or native ecosystem types in a natural condition and range of variation and contributing to the protection of Maine's biological diversity and managed:
A. As a benchmark against which biological and environmental change may be measured;
B. To protect sufficient habitat for those species whose habitat needs are unlikely to be met on lands managed for other purposes; or
C. As a site for ongoing scientific research, long-term environmental monitoring and education.
Sec. 3. 12 MRSA §1805 is enacted to read:
§1805. Designation of ecological reserve
The director may designate ecological reserves on parcels of land under the jurisdiction of the bureau that were included in the inventory of potential ecological reserves published in the July 1998 report of the Maine Forest Biodiversity Project, "An Ecological Reserves System Inventory: Potential Ecological Reserves on Maine's Existing Public and Private Conservation Lands." The director may designate additional ecological reserves only in conjunction with the adoption of a management plan for a particular parcel of land and the process for adoption of that management plan must provide for public review and comment on the plan. When a proposed management plan includes designation of an ecological reserve, the director shall notify the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over matters pertaining to public lands of the proposal.
1. Allowed uses. Allowed uses within an ecological reserve must be compatible with the purpose of the ecological reserve and may not cause significant impact on natural community composition or ecosystem processes. Allowed uses include nonmanipulative scientific research, public education and nonmotorized recreation activities such as hiking, cross-country skiing, primitive camping, hunting, fishing and trapping. For the purposes of this subsection, "primitive camping" means camping in a location without facilities or where facilities are limited to a privy, fire ring, tent pad, 3-sided shelter and picnic table. The removal of trees and construction of facilities associated with these allowed uses are allowed. The director may allow other uses when their impact remains low and does not compromise the purpose of the ecological reserve. Recreational use of surface waters is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
2. Trails and roads for motorized vehicle use. The director shall allow the continuing use of an existing snowmobile trail, all-terrain vehicle trail or a road if the director determines the trail or road is well designed and built and situated in a safe location and its use has minimal adverse impact on the ecological value of an ecological reserve and it cannot be reasonably relocated outside the ecological reserve.
A new snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle trail or a new road is allowed only if the director determines all of the following criteria are met:
A. No safe, cost-effective alternative exists;
B. The impact on protected natural resource values is minimal; and
C. The trail or road will provide a crucial link in a significant trail or road system.
3. Incompatible uses. Uses that are incompatible with the purpose of an ecological reserve are not allowed. Incompatible uses include timber harvesting, salvage harvesting, commercial mining and commercial sand and gravel excavation. For the purposes of this subsection, "salvage harvesting" means the removal of dead or damaged trees to recover economic value that would otherwise be lost.
4. Resource protection measures. The director shall take action to control a wildfire occurring on an ecological reserve or spreading to bureau lands. The director may authorize a prescribed burn in an ecological reserve if necessary to replicate natural processes that maintain specific natural communities or rare species populations.
The director may use pesticides, including herbicides, and sanitation harvests to control insect and disease outbreaks only in response to:
A. A specific threat to the functioning of a native ecosystem or managed wildlife habitat;
B. A specific threat to human health or safety; or
C. A condition that is likely to result in significant damage to adjacent lands if control is not exercised.
For the purposes of this subsection, "sanitation harvest" means the removal of trees that have been attacked or are in imminent danger of attack by insects or disease in order to prevent these insects or diseases from spreading to other trees.
5. Limits on total land acreage designated as ecological reserves. The total land acreage designated as ecological reserves may not exceed 15% of the total land acreage under the jurisdiction of the bureau or 100,000 acres, whichever is less. No more than 6% of the operable timberland acres on public reserved lands and nonreserved public lands may be designated as ecological reserves. For the purposes of this subsection, "operable timberland" means land the bureau considers viable for commercial timber harvest operations. Lands donated or acquired after the effective date of this section with the condition that the donated or acquired land be designated an ecological reserve are not included when calculating acreage limits under this subsection.
The designation of land as an ecological reserve may not result in a decline in the volume of timber harvested on land under the jurisdiction of the bureau. For the purposes of this subsection, "a decline in the volume of timber harvested" means an annual harvest volume of less than the average annual harvest volume for the preceding 10 years.
6. Reporting requirements. The bureau shall report the status of ecological reserves under the reporting requirements of subchapters III and IV.
Sec. 4. 12 MRSA §1839, sub-§1, ¶¶D and E, as enacted by PL 1997, c. 678, §13, are amended to read:
D. A summary of any campsite or recreation facility fees charged under section 1832, subsection 5;
E. A description of the proposed budget, including allocations for the bureau's dedicated funds and any revenues of the bureau from permits, leases, fees and sales, for the following fiscal year beginning on July 1st
Sec. 5. 12 MRSA §1839, sub-§1, ¶F is enacted to read:
F. The status of ecological reserves including the acreage of nonreserved public land designated as ecological reserves, results of monitoring, scientific research and other activities related to ecological reserves.
Sec. 6. 12 MRSA §1853, sub-§1, ¶¶D and E, as enacted by PL 1997, c. 678, §13, are amended to read:
D. A summary of any campsite or recreation facility fees charged under section 1846, subsection 5;
E. A description of the proposed budget, including allocations for the bureau's dedicated funds and any revenues of the bureau from permits, leases, fees and sales for the following fiscal year beginning on July 1st
Sec. 7. 12 MRSA §1853, sub-§1, ¶F is enacted to read:
F. The status of ecological reserves including the acreage of reserved public land designated as ecological reserves, results of monitoring, scientific research and other activities related to the bureau's ecological reserves.
Effective August 11, 2000, unless otherwise indicated.
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