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BILL AS INTRODUCED 2007-2008

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H.703

Introduced by Representative Anderson of Montpelier

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Conservation; Act 250; wildlife habitat mitigation

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to amend Act 250 to allow off-site mitigation for the loss of necessary wildlife habitat for deer, with the approval of the commissioner of fish and wildlife, as may be approved by a district environmental commission.  Off-site mitigation is to take place by paying a fee into a habitat preservation fund, which is established in the bill, the proceeds of which shall be used by the commissioner of fish and wildlife to implement habitat preservation projects that are eligible for federal funding.  Fee levels for off-site mitigation are to be established in rules adopted by the secretary of natural resources giving due consideration to the quality of the habitat and other relevant factors, including the recent, per-acre cost to acquire conservation easements for wildlife habitat in the same geographic region.

AN ACT RELATING TO AMENDING ACT 250 TO AUTHORIZE AN APPLICANT TO MITIGATE THE LOSS OF CERTAIN NECESSARY WILDLIFE HABITAT

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:


Sec. 1.  10 V.S.A. § 6086(a)(8) is amended to read:

(8)  Will not have an undue adverse effect on the scenic or natural beauty of the area, aesthetics, historic sites or rare and irreplaceable natural areas.

(A)  Necessary wildlife habitat and endangered species.  A Except as otherwise provided under subdivision (8)(B) of this subsection, a permit will not be granted if it is demonstrated by any party opposing the applicant that a development or subdivision will destroy or significantly imperil necessary wildlife habitat or any endangered species; and

(i)  the economic, social, cultural, recreational, or other benefit to the public from the development or subdivision will not outweigh the economic, environmental, or recreational loss to the public from the destruction or imperilment of the habitat or species; or

(ii)  all feasible and reasonable means of preventing or lessening the destruction, diminution, or imperilment of the habitat or species have not been or will not continue to be applied; or

(iii)  a reasonably acceptable alternative site is owned or controlled by the applicant which would allow the development or subdivision to fulfill its intended purpose.

(B)  Mitigation for loss of deer habitat.  Effective July 1, 2009, notwithstanding the fact that a party opposing an application has demonstrated that a development or subdivision will destroy or significantly imperil necessary wildlife habitat for deer, with the approval of the commissioner of fish and wildlife, a permit shall be granted if the applicant provides suitable mitigation for any loss in wildlife habitat.  In order to mitigate the loss of wildlife habitat off-site, an applicant shall deposit a mitigation fee into the habitat preservation fund established under 3 V.S.A. § 2809 and maintained by the secretary of the agency of natural resources for the purpose of implementing habitat conservation projects that are eligible for federal funding.  Any required mitigation fee shall be determined according to a formula established in a rule adopted by July 1, 2009 by the secretary of natural resources acting under 3 V.S.A. § 2825. 

Sec. 2.  3 V.S.A. § 2809 is added to read:
§ 2809.  HABITAT PRESERVATION FUND

There is established in the state treasury a fund to be known as the habitat preservation fund.  The fund shall consist of the proceeds from habitat mitigation fees imposed under 10 V.S.A. § 6086(a)(8) together with other monies that may be deposited into or appropriated to the fund.  All balances in the fund at the end of any fiscal year shall be carried forward and remain part of the fund.  Interest earned by the fund shall be deposited in the fund.  This fund is established in the state treasury pursuant to subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32.  The purpose of the fund is to implement habitat conservation projects that are eligible for federal funding.  Disbursements from the fund shall be made by the state treasurer on warrants drawn by the commissioner of finance and management.  The commissioner of fish and wildlife may authorize disbursements from the fund for the purpose of implementing habitat conservation projects that are eligible for federal funding.

Sec. 3.  3 V.S.A. § 2825(f) is added to read:

(f)  The secretary, by no later than July 1, 2009, shall adopt rules that establish a formula by which fees may be assessed under 10 V.S.A. § 6086 for the off-site mitigation of deer habitat that is destroyed or significantly imperiled due to development or subdivision under 10 V.S.A. chapter 151.  The formula shall be constructed so as to consider:

(1)  the number of acres of necessary wildlife habitat affected by the proposed development or subdivision;

(2)  the quality of the wildlife habitat and other factors that the secretary of natural resources may deem relevant, including the site’s location, the presence or absence of alternative habitat in the same general area, the extent of detrimental effects upon wildlife that might be caused by the loss of habitat, the extent to which the site contains wildlife habitat of statewide, regional, or local importance, and the amount that the secretary of natural resources has determined to be the recent, per-acre cost to acquire conservation easements for wildlife habitat in the same geographic region as the proposed development or subdivision.




Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us