The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 10: Conservation and Development

Chapter 83: DEPARTMENT OF FORESTS, PARKS AND RECREATION

 

Sub-Chapter 1: General Provisions

§ 2601. Policy and purposes

(a) The conservation of the forests, timberlands, woodlands, and soil and recreational resources of the state are hereby declared to be in the public interest. It is the policy of the state to encourage economic management of its forests and woodlands, to maintain, conserve and improve its soil resources and to control forest pests to the end that forest benefits, including maple sugar production, are preserved for its people, floods and soil erosion are alleviated, hazards of forest fires are lessened, its natural beauty is preserved, its wildlife is protected, the development of its recreational interests is encouraged, the fertility and productivity of its soil are maintained, the impairment of its dams and reservoirs is prevented, its tax base is protected and the health, safety and general welfare of its people are sustained and promoted.

(b) The department shall implement the policies of this chapter by assisting forest land owners and lumber operators in the cutting and marketing of forest growth, encouraging cooperation between forest owners, lumber operators and the state of Vermont in the practice of conservation and management of forest lands, managing, promoting and protecting the multiple use of publicly owned forest and park lands; planning, constructing, developing, operating and maintaining the system of state parks; determining the necessity of repairs and replacements to all department-owned buildings and causing urgent repairs and replacements to be accomplished, with the approval of the secretary of administration, if within the limits of specific appropriations or if approved by the emergency board; and providing advice and assistance to municipalities, other political subdivisions, state departments and nongovernmental organizations in the development of wholesome and adequate community or institutional recreation programs. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1993, No. 233 (Adj. Sess.), § 44, eff. June 21, 1994.)

§ 2602. Definitions

As used in this chapter:

(1) "Agency" means the agency of natural resources as created by chapter 51 of Title 3;

(2) "Department" means the department of forests, parks and recreation within the agency of natural resources;

(3) "Commissioner" means the commissioner of the department of forests, parks and recreation;

(4) "Secretary" means the secretary of the agency of natural resources. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1987, No. 76, § 18.)

§ 2603. Powers and duties: Commissioner

(a) The Department shall be under the direction and supervision of a Commissioner appointed by the Secretary as provided in 3 V.S.A. § 2851. In addition to the duties and powers provided under this chapter, the Commissioner shall have the powers and duties specified in 3 V.S.A. § 2852 and such additional duties as may be assigned to the Commissioner by the Secretary under 3 V.S.A. § 2853. The Commissioner shall implement the policy and purposes specified in section 2601 of this title where appropriate and to the extent that resources of the Department permit.

(b) The Commissioner shall manage and plan for the use of publicly owned forests and park lands in order to implement the policy and purposes of this chapter, promote and protect the natural, productive and recreational values of such lands, and provide for multiple uses of the lands in the public interest. The Commissioner may sell forest products and other resources on public lands and shall administer the State Park System and a community recreation program as is in the best interests of the State and is consistent with the purposes and policies of this chapter.

(c)(1) The Commissioner, subject to the direction and approval of the secretary, shall promulgate and publish regulations in the name of the Agency for the use of State forests, or park lands, including reasonable fees or charges for the use of the lands, roads, camping sites, buildings, and other facilities and for the harvesting of timber or removal of minerals or other resources from such lands, notwithstanding 32 V.S.A. § 603.

(2) The Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation shall be permitted to temporarily (not to exceed one season per project) adjust fees and charges at any area for the purpose of bona fide scientific research.

(3) Notwithstanding subdivision (1) of this subsection, the Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation shall be permitted to develop State park services, promotional programs, and vacation or special event packages and adjust rates and fees for those services and packages to promote the park system or increase campground occupancy.

(4) Fees charged under this section shall be reported in accordance with 32 V.S.A. § 605.

(d) The Commissioner or designee shall be the State fire warden and may act as, and in place of, the fire warden of any municipality as provided under subchapter 4 of this chapter.

(e) The provisions of this section shall not be construed to allow the Commissioner to grant oil and gas leases.

(f) Associations of amateur radio operators licensed as such by the United States Federal Communications Commission shall not be required to pay a fee or other charge as provided by subsection (c) of this section, as a condition of either a lease or a sublease of State property executed under this title, for access to mountaintop electronic sites designated as such in conformance with policy of the Secretary of Natural Resources, except that each such association shall by January 1 annually pay a $ 25.00 access fee and submit to the Commissioner at that time a list of the association's current membership.

(g) The Commissioner shall consult with and receive approval from the Commissioner of Buildings and General Services concerning proposed construction or renovation of individual projects involving capital improvements which are expected, either in phases or in total, to cost more than $200,000.00. The Department of Environmental Conservation shall manage all contracts for engineering services for capital improvements made by the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.

(h) All interest accrued from bonds deposited in the Agency Fund and forfeited bonds in the Agency Fund for the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation's timber management program may be transferred annually by the Commissioner, with the approval of the Commissioner of Finance and Management, to the Natural Resources Management Fund. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1981, No. 240 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. April 28, 1982; 1991, No. 83; 1999, No. 49, § 157; 2001, No. 149 (Adj. Sess.), § 89, eff. June 27, 2002; 2009, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § B14; 2011, No. 63, § E.704.1.)

§ 2604. Repealed. 2009, No. 135 (Adj. Sess.), § 26(4)(A).

§ 2605. Governor's council on physical fitness and sports

(a) The governor's council on physical fitness and sports is created within the department of forests, parks and recreation, to be composed of 20 members with appropriate interests and representing the various geographical areas of the state. The members shall be appointed by the governor for staggered terms of two years expiring on March 31 in the appropriate year. The governor may reappoint any person who has served or is serving as a member of the council. The governor shall appoint a member of the council to serve as chairperson, and the council shall elect other officers as needed. The council shall meet annually and at the call of the chairperson.

(b) In order to promote physical fitness, the council shall have the responsibility to:

(1) develop, foster and coordinate services and programs of physical fitness for the people of Vermont;

(2) sponsor physical fitness and sports workshops, clinics, conferences and other similar activities;

(3) give recognition to outstanding developments and achievements in, and contributions to, physical fitness and sports;

(4) stimulate physical fitness research;

(5) collect and disseminate physical fitness and sports information and initiate advertising campaigns promoting physical fitness and sports;

(6) upon request assist schools to develop health and physical fitness programs for students;

(7) encourage local governments and communities to develop local physical fitness programs;

(8) encourage the private sector to develop programs for promotion of personal health and physical fitness;

(9) enlist the support of individuals, civic groups, amateur professional sports associations and other organizations to promote and improve physical fitness and sports programs;

(10) promote the development of a program of statewide amateur athletic competition to be known as the Green Mountain State Games. The games shall be designed to encourage the participation of athletes representing a broad range of age groups, skill levels and Vermont communities in a variety of activities. Participants shall be residents of this state. Regional competitions shall be held throughout the state, and the top qualifiers in each sport shall proceed to the final competitions to be held at a site in the state with the necessary facilities and equipment for conducting the competitions. The frequency of the games shall be determined by the council.

(c) The council may accept grants, gifts and bequests and enter into contracts to carry out the purposes of this section. (Added 1985, No. 173 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

§ 2606. Acceptance of gifts; exchange, purchase or lease of lands

(a) The commissioner, with the approval of the governor, may accept gifts of land to the state or may purchase land in the name of the state to be held and administered as state forests or state parks.

(b) With the approval of the general assembly, which may be granted by resolution, the commissioner may exchange or lease lands under his or her jurisdiction when in their judgment it is advantageous to the state to do so in the highest orderly development and management of state forests and parks.

(c) The commissioner, with the approval of the governor, may lease mine, quarry or other resource sites or rights as may be discovered on state forest or park lands unconditionally owned by the state.

(d) The commissioner, with the approval of the governor, may lease for a term of years, or otherwise, such lands as he or she deems necessary for the protection of state forest or park lands or for use by the state in connection therewith.

(e) The provisions of this section shall not be construed to allow the commissioner to grant oil and gas leases. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1981, No. 240 (Adj. Sess.), § 4, eff. April 28, 1982; 1997, No. 148 (Adj. Sess.), § 70, eff. April 29, 1998.)

§ 2606a. Mountaintop use as communications sites

(a) State policy. It is hereby adopted as state policy to permit limited use of designated state-owned land under the jurisdiction of the department for electronic communications broadcasting by both public and private entities. Use of the designated sites shall be in compliance with the policy set forth herein under the management of government and private users of the mountaintops. This policy implementation has the objectives of:

(1) protecting state-owned mountaintops from the development of new communications facilities which have a significant adverse environmental impact;

(2) protecting mountaintop communication signals from interference by existing or subsequent users; and

(3) maximizing use of limited mountaintop facilities through consolidation of equipment, efficient development and economic management of each site.

(b) Specific sites.

(1) Mountaintop designation. The state-owned mountaintops to which this section shall apply are: Ascutney Mountain North Peak and Ascutney Mountain South Peak, Burke Mountain, Okemo Mountain, and Killington Mountain.

(2)-(5) [Repealed.]  (Added 1993, No. 233 (Adj. Sess.), § 63, eff. June 21, 1994; amended 1995, No. 185 (Adj. Sess.), § 10d, eff. May 22, 1996; 2009, No. 135 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 2009, No. 135 (Adj. Sess.), § 26(4)(B).)

§ 2606b. License of forest lands for maple sugar production

(a) The general assembly finds and declares that:

(1) Maple sugaring is an important cultural tradition of Vermont life that should be maintained and encouraged.

(2) Maple sugaring is an important component of the agricultural and forest products economy in Vermont and is increasingly necessary for farmers that must diversify in order to continue to farm in Vermont.

(3) Maple sugaring is a sustainable use of forest land.

(4) State forest land should be managed and used for multiple uses including maple sugar production.

(b) It is hereby adopted as state policy to permit limited use of designated state-owned land under the jurisdiction of the department for maple sugar production.

(c) Beginning on July 1, 2009, pursuant to guidelines developed jointly by the department of forests, parks and recreation and the Vermont maple sugar makers' association, the department shall issue licenses for the use of state forest land for the tapping of maple trees, the collection of maple sap, and the transportation of such sap to a processing site located off state forest land or to sites located on state forest land if approved by the commissioner. All tapping of maple trees authorized under a license shall be conducted according to the guidelines for tapping maple trees agreed to by the department and the Vermont maple sugar makers' association. Each person awarded a license under this section shall maintain and repair any road, water crossing, or work area according to requirements set by the department in the license. Each license shall include such additional terms and conditions set by the departmentas may be necessary to preserve forest health and to assure compliance with the requirements of this chapter and applicable rules. A license shall be issued for a fixed term not to exceed five years and shall be renewable for two five-year terms subsequent to the initial license. Subsequent renewals shall be allowed where agreed upon by the department and the licensee. The department shall have power to terminate or modify a license for cause, including damage to forest health.

(d) The commissioner may adopt rules to implement the requirements of this section.

(e) There is hereby established a maple advisory board to provide the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation with guidance on licensing of state forest land for maple sugar production, including identification of potential sites on state lands for licensure. The board shall be composed of:

(1) Three employees of the department of forests, parks and recreation, appointed by the commissioner.

(2) Three sugar makers, at least one of which is an independent sugar maker unaffiliated with an association, appointed by the secretary of agriculture, food and markets.

(3) One member of the Vermont forest products association designated by the association.

(4) One member of either the University of Vermont Proctor maple research center or the University of Vermont agricultural extension service, appointed by the commissioner.

(f) There shall be an annual license fee imposed based on the number of taps installed in the license area. The per tap fee for a license issued under this section shall be one-quarter of the average of the per pound price of Vermont fancy grade syrup and the per pound price of Vermont commercial grade syrup as those prices are set on May 1 of each year. The fee set each May 1 shall apply to licenses issued by the department for the succeeding period beginning June 1 and ending May 31. Fees collected under this section shall be deposited in the forest parks revolving fund established under section 2609 of this title and shall be used by the department to implement the license program established by this section.

(g) On or before January 15, 2010, the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation shall submit to the senate and house committees on natural resources and energy and the senate and house committees on agriculture a report regarding the implementation of the requirements of this section. The report shall include:

(1) A copy of the guidelines required by this section for issuing licenses for the use of state forest land for maple sap collection and production.

(2) A summary of the process used to identify parcels of state forest land suitable for licensing for maple sap collection and production and the process by which the department allocated licenses.

(3) A summary of the licenses issued for maple sap collection and production on state forest land.

(4) An estimate of the fees collected for licenses issued under this section.

(5) A copy of any rules adopted by or proposed for adoption by the commissioner to implement the requirements of this section. (Added 2009, No. 21, § 1.)

§ 2607. Natural areas; designation

(a) The commissioner, with the approval of the governor, may designate and set aside areas in the state forests and state parks as natural areas.

(b) "Natural areas" means limited areas of land which have retained their wilderness character, although not necessarily completely natural and undisturbed, or have rare or vanishing species of plant or animal life or similar features of interest which are worthy of preservation for the use of present and future residents of the state and may include unique ecological, geological, scenic and contemplative recreational areas on state lands.

(c) Land uses and practices in natural areas shall be subject to regulations of the department to carry out the purposes of this chapter to manage or maintain the areas for the preservation of their natural condition. Areas so designated may be removed from such designation only by approval of the governor following public notice and hearing. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

§ 2608. Enforcement; penalties; liability

(a) Enforcement of the provisions of this chapter or any regulations or proclamations promulgated hereunder shall be in accordance with the provisions of 3 V.S.A. § 2822(c).

(b) A person who violates any provision of this chapter or regulations or proclamations promulgated hereunder, or neglects or refuses to assist a fire warden when called upon to do so as provided in section 2644 of this title, shall be imprisoned not more than 30 days or fined not more than $ 50.00, or both. Such person shall be liable for all damages resulting from a violation to be recovered in a civil action under this statute by the person injured. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

§ 2609. Forest parks revolving fund

There is hereby established in the state treasury a fund to be known as the state forest parks revolving fund, to be administered by the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation from which payments may be made for the planning, design, development, operation and maintenance of state parks.

There shall be deposited in said fund all monies which are received from state parks and forest recreational areas including those received from fees, leases, licenses, concessions, rentals or sales, together with such sums as may be appropriated to said fund by the legislature. All balances in such fund at the end of any fiscal year shall be carried forward and remain a part of such fund. (Added 1979, No. 13, § 45, retroactive to July 1, 1978.)

§ 2609a. Income from lease of mountaintop communication sites

Annually on February 15, the Agency of Natural Resources shall submit a report to the Senate and House Committees on Natural Resources and Energy containing an itemization of the income generated through the end of the previous fiscal year from the use of sites for communication purposes. (Added 1995, No. 185 (Adj. Sess.), § 10b, eff. May 22, 1996; amended 2011, No. 139 (Adj. Sess.), § 8, eff. May 14, 2012.)

§ 2610. Relocation assistance; when required

(a) When the department undertakes any project which results in the acquisition of real property subject to the provisions of the Federal Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, Pub. L. No. 91-646, 84 Stat. 1894 (1971), as amended, and as a result of that acquisition a person is displaced from his or her home, business or farm, the department shall provide relocation assistance and make relocation payments to the displaced person in compliance with the Federal Uniform Relocation Act.

(b) Payments made under this section shall not be deemed compensation for real property acquired or compensation for damages to remaining property.

(c) The department may adopt rules necessary to administer the provisions of this section. Such rules shall be consistent with the Federal Uniform Relocation Act and applicable federal regulations. (Added 1989, No. 5, eff. April 1, 1989.)

§ 2611. Vermont youth conservation corps

(a) The secretary of the agency of natural resources in cooperation with the commissioner of labor is hereby directed to develop and implement a youth work, education and community service program to improve, restore, maintain and conserve public buildings, lands, waters and parks.

(b) The Vermont youth conservation corps program may be offered throughout the year. It shall be the purpose of the program to provide economic, vocational, community service and educational opportunities for Vermont youths. At least half of the youths enrolled in the program shall be disadvantaged.

(c) To effectuate the purposes of this section, the secretary may:

(1) Employ a Vermont youth conservation corps director or coordinator and the support staff necessary to direct, supervise and implement the program.

(2) Subject to the limitations of 32 V.S.A. § 5, apply for and accept grants or contributions from funds from any public or private source.

(3) Purchase a policy of liability insurance for the benefit of the state, its employees and enrollees while performing their official duties pursuant to the provisions of this section.

(4) Enter into an agreement with the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, Inc. regarding the cooperative management and operation of the youth conservation corps program. (Added 1993, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 11, 1994; 2005, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. April 5, 2006.)

§ 2612. Designation; Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, Inc.

(a) The Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, Inc. is designated the organization in the State to accept federal and State funds and private donations for the purpose of developing and maintaining the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps Program.

(b) The Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, Inc. and the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation shall enter into a management agreement for the purpose of managing and operating the program.

(c) [Repealed.]  (Added 1993, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. May 11, 1994; amended 2011, No. 139 (Adj. Sess.), § 51, eff. May 14, 2012.)

 

Sub-Chapter 2: Forest Conservation

§ 2621. Duties of owners

It shall be the duty of a landowner or operator of forest land, whether public or private, to manage, operate and harvest forest crops which promote conditions favorable for regrowth consistent with the policies of this chapter. All forest land on which a lumbering operation is conducted should be left by the owner or operator in a favorable condition for regrowth by preserving trees of commercial species sufficient under normal conditions to maintain continuous forest growth or restocking so as to assure continuous or successive forest crops. So far as practicable, all desirable seedlings and saplings should be protected during logging operations. When necessary, reforestation practices should be employed to assure renewed forest growth after harvesting of forest crops. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

§ 2622. Rules; harvesting timber; forests

The commissioner shall adopt rules to establish methods by which the harvest and utilization of timber in private and public forest land will be consistent with continuous forest growth, including reforestation, will prevent wasteful and dangerous forestry practices, will regulate heavy cutting, will encourage good forestry management, will enable and assist landowners to practice good forestry management, and will conserve the natural resources consistent with the purposes and policies of this chapter, giving due consideration to the need to assure continuous supplies of forest products and to the rights of the owner or operator of the land. Such rules shall be advisory, and not mandatory, except that the rules adopted under section 2625 of this title shall be mandatory as shall other rules specifically authorized to be mandatory. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1997, No. 15, § 1, eff. May 6, 1997.)

§ 2623. Reports, management plans, and licensing

In order to implement the purpose and policies of this subchapter, the commissioner may:

(1) Require the filing of an annual report by a mill operator covering timber products cut, lumber produced, and source of timber. Such report shall be in conformity with reports required by other agencies;

(2) Accept a management plan presented by a forest owner or operator as alternative to compliance with any rules issued under this subchapter. A plan, when approved by the commissioner, shall be deemed to be in compliance with the regulations issued under this subchapter so long as the plan is complied with.

(3) Require the annual licensing and registration of portable sawmills, portable chip harvesters and other similar portable forest product utilization systems. The operator receiving a license shall comply with all requirements stipulated for the operation of such equipment. Regulations relating to licensing requirements shall be adopted in accordance with chapter 25 of Title 3. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

§ 2624. Marked timber sales

(a) The department of forests, parks and recreation may provide marked timber to Vermont citizens for personal use at a reasonable price to be determined by the secretary of the agency of natural resources.

(b) The commissioner of forests, parks and recreation may establish a firewood-for-homes program. As part of this program, the commissioner shall designate areas of state-owned lands, situated at various locations throughout the state, that will be available to members of the general public for harvesting firewood for purposes of heating their own homes. (Added 1979, No. 205 (Adj. Sess.), § 124, eff. May 9, 1980; amended 1987, No. 76, § 18; 2007, No. 192 (Adj. Sess.), § 6.003.)

§ 2625. Regulation of heavy cutting

(a) Definitions. For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:

(1) "Acceptable growing stock" means a stem having a diameter of 4.5 inches or greater at breast height which has the potential of producing a sawlog product of a commercial species of any grade, now or in the future.

(2) "Heavy cut" means a harvest leaving a residual stocking level of acceptable growing stock below the C-line, as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture silvicultural stocking guides for the applicable timber type.

(3)(A) "Landowner" means a person or entity that owns or controls the land or the right to harvest timber or other wood products, including:

(i) an individual, partnership, corporation, association, unincorporated organization, trust or other legal or commercial entity, including a joint venture or affiliated ownership;

(ii) a municipality or state agency;

(iii) individuals and entities affiliated with each other for profit, consideration, or any other beneficial interest derived from the harvest of timber or other wood products;

(iv) an individual's parents, children and spouse, unless the individual establishes that he or she will derive no profit or consideration, or acquire any other beneficial interest from the harvest of timber or other wood products by the parent, child or spouse.

(B) The following individuals and entities shall be presumed not to be affiliated for the purpose of profit, consideration, or other beneficial interest within the meaning of this chapter, unless there is substantial evidence of an intent to evade the purposes of this chapter:

(i) a stockholder in a corporation shall be presumed not to be affiliated with others, solely on the basis of being a stockholder, if the stockholder and the stockholder's spouse, parents, children, and siblings own, control or have a beneficial interest in less than five percent of the outstanding shares in the corporation;

(ii) an individual shall be presumed not to be affiliated with others, solely for actions taken as an agent of another within the normal scope of duties of a court appointed guardian, a licensed attorney, real estate broker or salesperson, engineer, land surveyor, forester, or retail or wholesale vendor of wood products, unless the compensation received or beneficial interest obtained as a result of these duties indicates more than an agency relationship;

(iii) a seller or chartered lending institution shall be presumed not to be affiliated with others, solely for financing all or a portion of the purchase price at rates not substantially higher than prevailing lending rates in the community, and subsequently granting a partial release of the security when the buyer harvests timber or other wood products;

(iv) a logging contractor shall be presumed not to be affiliated with others solely for conducting a harvest of timber or other wood products, while subject to supervision and control of a landowner, unless the logging contractor holds an ownership interest in the land or standing timber, or is affiliated with others holding an ownership interest in the land or standing timber.

(b) Notice of intent to cut. The following landowners shall file a notice of intent to cut with a department field forester at least 15 days before commencing a heavy cut:

(1) A landowner who intends to conduct a heavy cut of 40 acres, or more, on land owned or controlled by the landowner.

(2) A landowner who intends to conduct a heavy cut and has conducted heavy cuts on other lands owned or controlled by the landowner, within the five previous years:

(A) within a radius of 1,000 feet of the proposed harvest, so that the total acreage subjected to a heavy cut has exceeded or will exceed 40 acres; or

(B) within a radius of two miles of the proposed harvest, so that the acreage subjected to a heavy cut has exceeded or will exceed 80 acres.

(c) Exemptions. Upon the filing of a notice of intent to cut, a department field forester shall determine that the cut is exempt, and that no further review is necessary, if one of the following apply:

(1) The landowner has filed the notice of intent to cut for informational purposes, even though the proposed harvest is not subject to regulation as a heavy cut under the provisions of this section.

(2) The landowner certifies that the proposed heavy cut is intended to carry out an agricultural conversion plan, and that the conversion will be completed and the land will be in agricultural production within five years.

(3) The landowner certifies that the proposed heavy cut is intended to carry out a conversion that is subject to regulation by a district environmental commission under chapter 151 of this title or by the public service board under Title 30.

(4) The landowner certifies that the proposed heavy cut is consistent with one of the following:

(A) A forest management plan currently in effect and approved by the department under the current use assessment program.

(B) A chip harvesting plan currently in effect and approved by the department of fish and wildlife under a permit issued under 30 V.S.A. § 248.

(C) Another forest management plan currently in effect and approved by the department under department rules in effect at the time of approval of the plan.

(d) Authorization to proceed. If an exemption does not apply and the applicable fee has been paid, the department field forester shall review the proposed heavy cut. If the proposal is in conformance with the applicable rules adopted by the department, the department field forester shall issue authorization to proceed. If the proposed heavy cut is not in conformance with the rules, authorization to proceed shall be denied and the proposed heavy cut shall be prohibited.

(e) Processing of a notice of intent to cut.

(1) Within 15 days of the filing of a notice of intent to cut, a department field forester shall notify a landowner if a notice of intent is incomplete and more information is required in order to determine whether or not an exemption applies.

(2) Within 15 days of the filing of a complete notice of intent, a department field forester:

(A) shall determine whether or not a proposed heavy cut is exempt, and

(B) in case a proposed heavy cut is not exempt, shall determine whether authorization to proceed shall be issued or denied, and

(C) shall notify the landowner, and any town in which the cut is proposed, of that determination or those determinations.

(3) If, within the relevant 15-day period, a department field forester fails to make a determination regarding exemption or fails to request additional required information from a landowner, the proposed heavy cut shall be deemed to be exempt from the review requirements of this section. This exemption shall not relieve the landowner from conforming with the requirements of the approved management or chip harvesting plan, the proposed harvest plan described in the notice of intent to cut, or any applicable rules adopted by the department.

(f) Appeals. If the exemption is denied or if authorization to proceed is denied, the landowner shall have 30 days in which to file an appeal with the commissioner.

(1) Upon the filing of an appeal, the commissioner may appoint a review team of natural resources professionals to visit the site, gather information about the proposed heavy cut, and make recommendations to the commissioner. The commissioner may also appoint a hearing officer to take sworn statements of the landowner, the review team, and other witnesses called by the landowner or the hearing officer, and make recommendations to the commissioner.

(2) The commissioner shall issue a decision in writing within 30 days of the receipt of an appeal.

(3) Appeals of the commissioner's decision shall be made in accordance with chapter 220 of this title.

(g) Rulemaking authority. The commissioner shall adopt rules relating to heavy cutting subject to the notice of intent to cut requirements established by this section. The rules shall establish:

(1) Silvicultural guidelines and forestry standards.

(2) Requirements with respect to soil productivity, water quality, wetlands, riparian zones, significant wildlife habitat areas, unique or fragile areas, regeneration, scenic quality, and unusual environmental events such as those causing severe damage from wind, ice, disease or insect infestation.

(3) Procedures relating to the filing and processing of a notice of intent to cut.

(h) Fees. There shall be a fee of $100.00 for filing a notice of intent to cut for a cut that is not exempt from review under the provisions of subsection (c) of this section and when a field review is required to assess the proposed cut. Fees paid for proposals that are later deemed to be entitled to an exemption shall be returned to the landowner. Fees shall be deposited into the environmental permit fund established under 3 V.S.A. § 2805.

(i) Applicability to public lands.

(1) The provisions of this section shall apply to heavy cuts on public lands, except that no heavy cut may occur on certain lands owned by the agency of natural resources, unless the proposed heavy cut is included in the state's management plan that has been adopted subsequent to a public review process.

(2) Any heavy cut on public lands shall be conducted in accordance with applicable rules adopted by the commissioner.

(j) Enforcement. A violation of the provisions of this section or the rules adopted under this section, false certification under this section, and noncompliance with a harvesting plan or a management plan that constitutes an exemption to this section shall each constitute a violation as defined under chapter 201 of this title and shall be subject to enforcement under that chapter and under chapter 211 of this title. (Added 1997, No. 15, § 3, eff. May 6, 1997; amended 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 45, eff. Jan. 31, 2005.)

 

Sub-Chapter 3: State Nurseries

§§ 2631, 2632. Repealed. 1993, No. 233 (Adj. Sess.), § 47(a), eff. July 1, 1995.

 

Sub-Chapter 4: Forest Fires And Fire Prevention

§ 2641. Fire wardens, appointment and removal

(a) Upon approval by the select-board and acceptance by the appointee, the commissioner shall appoint a town forest fire warden for a term of five years or until a successor is appointed. The warden may be removed for cause at any time by the commissioner with the approval of the select-board. A warden shall comply with training requirements established by the commissioner by rule.

(b) The commissioner may appoint a forest fire warden for an unorganized town or gore, who shall hold office until he or she resigns or is removed for cause. The forest fire warden shall have the same powers and duties as town forest fire wardens.

(c) When there are woodlands within the limits of a city or incorporated village, the chief of the fire department of such city or village shall act as city or village fire warden with all the powers and duties of town forest fire wardens.

(d) When the commissioner deems it difficult in any municipality for one warden to take charge of protecting the entire municipality from forest fires, he may appoint one or more deputy forest fire wardens. Such wardens under the direction of the fire warden shall have the same powers, duties and pay and make the same reports through the fire warden to the commissioner as forest fire wardens.

(e) The commissioner may appoint special forest fire wardens who shall hold office during the pleasure of the commissioner. Such fire wardens shall have the same powers and duties throughout the state as town forest fire wardens, except that all expenses and charges incurred on account of their official acts shall be paid from the appropriations for the department. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1987, No. 107, § 1.)

§ 2642. Salary and compensation of fire wardens

(a) The salary of a town fire warden shall be determined by the selectmen for time spent in the performance of the duties of his office, which shall be paid by the town. He or she shall also receive from the town the sum of $0.15 for each fire permit issued. In addition thereto, he or she shall receive from the commissioner $20.00 annually for properly making out and submitting reports of fires in his or her district and keeping the required state records. He or she shall also receive from the commissioner $15.00 per diem for attendance at each training meeting called by the commissioner.

(b) The pay of a warden of an unorganized town or gore and his or her assistants, including patrolmen, and all expenses incurred by him or her in extinguishing forest fires, as provided for by the commissioner, including employment of a person to assist him or her, on the approval of the commissioner, shall be paid by the state from the moneys annually available from taxes in the unorganized town and gore, and the commissioner of finance and management shall issue his or her warrant therefor.

(c) A person employed by a warden to assist him or her in extinguishing a forest fire as authorized under section 2644 of this title, shall be paid at the same rate per hour as is paid for labor upon highways. A minimum of two hours' pay for the first hour or any portion thereof shall be allowed persons who are officially summoned to assist in the extinguishment of forest fires. When a warden employs men in extinguishing a fire in a municipality adjoining his or her own, the expense incurred shall be paid by the municipality in which the work was done at the rate of pay prevailing in the municipality where the laborers reside. A municipality wherein such warden resides shall forthwith pay the warden and assistants for their services, and the municipality may recover the expense thereof in a civil action on this statute from the municipality where the work was done. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1983, No. 195 (Adj. Sess.), § 5(b).)

§ 2643. Town's liability for extinguishing forest fires; state aid

(a) For the purpose of extinguishing forest fires, a town shall not be held liable in any one year for an amount greater than ten percent of its grand list.

(b) The state shall reimburse a town for its forest fire suppression costs in excess of ten percent of its grand list and for one-half its forest fire suppression costs up to and including ten percent of its grand list when the bills are presented to the commissioner by December 31 of each year with proper vouchers and in a form approved by him. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

§ 2644. Duties and powers of fire warden

(a) When a forest fire or fire threatening a forest is discovered in his or her town, the warden shall enter upon any premises and take measures for its prompt control and extinguishment. The warden may call upon any person for assistance. He or she may arrest without warrant any person found in the act of violating a provision of law or proclamation pertaining to forest fires.

(b) A warden shall keep a record of his or her acts, the amount of expenses incurred, the number of fires and causes, the areas burned over and the character and amount of damages done in the warden's jurisdiction. Within two weeks after the discovery of such a fire, he or she shall report the same to the commissioner on forms which shall be furnished by him or her, but the making of such report shall not be a charge against the town.

(c) During the danger season and subject to the approval or direction of the commissioner, a warden shall establish a patrol in dangerous localities, and the expense for the same shall be paid as expenses for fighting fires. Wardens shall receive the same pay for time spent in posting notices, patrolling or in making investigations of damages done that they receive for time spent in actual fire fighting. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

§ 2645. Open burning; permits

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person shall not kindle or authorize another to kindle a fire in the open air for the purpose of burning brush, weeds, grass or rubbish of any kind except where there is snow on the site, without first obtaining permission from the fire warden or deputy warden of the town, stating when and where such fire may be kindled. Whenever such permission is granted, such warden, within 12 hours, shall issue a written permit for record purposes stating when and where such fire may be kindled. Permission shall not be required for the kindling of a fire in a location which is 200 feet or more from any woodland, timberland or field containing dry grass or other inflammable plant material contiguous to woodland. With the written approval of the secretary, during periods of extreme fire hazard, the commissioner may notify town fire wardens that for a specified period no burning permits shall be issued. The wardens shall issue no permits during the specified period.

(b) Whenever the commissioner deems that the public safety of any town or portion of a town of this state does not require the protection provided by this section, he or she may cause the town fire warden of any such town to post notices to that effect in not less than five conspicuous places in such town.

(c) The provisions of this section will not apply:

(1) To areas posted in accordance with subsection (b) of this section;

(2) To fires built in stone arches at state recreational areas;

(3) To fires built in special containers used for burning brush, waste, grass or rubbish when conditions are deemed satisfactory to the town fire warden; or

(4) To areas within cities or villages maintaining a fire department. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

§ 2646. Proclamation by governor prohibiting kindling of fires: Closing of woodlands

(a) Whenever it appears to the governor that there is excessive danger of forest fires, he or she may prohibit by proclamation the kindling of a fire in or adjoining forest land or close any or all sections of woodland, or brushland, in any town for such time as the governor may designate, to all persons except the owner and his or her household, his or her tenants, servants or agents and persons in the public employment engaged in abating such fire-hazardous condition.

(b) Proclamations shall be published in such newspapers of the state and posted in such places and in such manner as the governor may order in writing. A copy of such publication and order, attested by the secretary of civil and military affairs, shall be filed with the secretary of state and a like copy shall be furnished to the commissioner who shall attend to the publication and posting thereof. The expenses of such publication and posting shall be paid by the department. Notice of removal of restrictions imposed by proclamation shall be in the same manner. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

§ 2647. Fires in woods of another; permission

No one shall build a fire in the woodlands of another without the permission of the owner, lessee, holder of right-of-way or his or her authorized agent between April 1 and November 1. A person who builds a fire in or adjoining any woods shall totally extinguish such fire before leaving it. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

§ 2648. Slash removal

(a) A person may cut or cause to be cut forest growth only if all slash adjoining the right-of-way of any public highway, or the boundary lines of woodlots owned by adjoining property owners, is treated as follows:

(1) All slash shall be removed for a distance of 50 feet from the right-of-way of any public highway or from the boundary lines of woodlots owned by adjoining property owners.

(2) All slash shall be removed for a distance of 100 feet from standing buildings on adjoining property.

(b) Owners or operators of timber or woodlots shall leave the main logging roads through cut-over areas free from slash so that tractors may pass over these roads unobstructed in order to carry men and supplies and fire fighting equipment to fire suppression crews.

(c) If in the opinion of the town forest fire warden there is no fire hazard as a result of a cutting, the warden may issue, upon request, a statement relieving the operator of the conditions required in this section. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1987, No. 107, § 2.)

 

Sub-Chapter 5: Municipal Forests

§ 2651. Municipal forest; definition

As used in this subchapter, "municipal forest" means a tract of land primarily devoted to producing wood products, maintaining wildlife habitat, protecting water supplies, providing forest recreation and conservation education. A municipal forest shall not be construed to include landscaped grounds and plantings around residential, industrial, institutional, municipal buildings or municipal areas devoted to off-street recreation. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

§ 2652. Municipal forests, state aid

At any legal meeting, a municipality may vote sums of money for the purchase, management and improvement of a municipal forest within or without the municipality. Any appropriation so voted shall qualify the municipality for such matching state and federal funds as may be available, provided that the suitability of such lands is approved by the commissioner of forests, parks, and recreation. Any portion of such appropriated and matching funds not required for the purchase of land may be expended by the municipality, under the direction of the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation, in establishing multiple use and implementing a management program for such municipal forest. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

§ 2653. Designation of municipal forest

A town owning a tract of land may have the same examined without cost by the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation for the purpose of determining whether the same is suitable for a municipal forest. If, upon such examination, he or she decides that it is suitable for such purposes, it shall be designated as municipal forest and he or she shall give advice as to the subsequent management thereof. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

§ 2654. Management

Municipal forests shall be managed under the direction of the commissioner. The protection of such forests shall be under the town forest fire warden who shall be paid for his or her services in connection therewith by the town at the same rate as he or she is paid for fighting forest fires upon the approval of his or her account by the commissioner. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

§ 2655. Receipts

All moneys received for the sale of lumber, wood or other products from a municipal forest shall be paid into the treasury of the municipality. In the event any of the lands held by a municipality for municipal forest purposes are sold, advances made by the state or federal government in the purchase thereof shall be repaid to the state by the municipality. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

 

Sub-Chapter 6: Forest Pest Control

§ 2661. Surveys and investigations

The Commissioner shall make surveys and investigations to determine the threat or presence of infestations and control of forest pests. For this purpose, duly designated representatives of the Commissioner may enter at reasonable times on public and private lands for the purpose of conducting such surveys, investigations, and controls. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

§ 2662. Control measures

(a) Whenever the commissioner finds that an area in the state is infested or threatened to be infested with forest pests, he or she shall determine whether measures of control are needed and are available and the area over which the control measures shall be applied. The commissinoer shall prescribe a proposed zone of infestation covering the area in which control measures are to be applied, and shall publish notice of the proposal in one or more newspapers having a general circulation in the area in which control measures are to be undertaken.

(b) The notice shall include a brief description of the location of the proposed zone of infestation and the approximate time when control measures will be executed. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

§ 2663. Infestation control; agreements with owners

The commissioner under the provisions of 3 V.S.A. § 2853 may apply measures of infestation control on public and private forest and other lands anywhere in the state to any trees, timber, plants or shrubs thereon harboring or which may harbor the forest pests. The commissioner may enter into agreements with owners of such lands covering the control work on their lands, and fix the pro rata basis on which the cost of such work will be shared between the state and said owner; provided, that the failure of the commissioner to offer an agreement to or execute an agreement with any owner shall not impair the right of representatives of the commissioner to enter on the lands of said owner to conduct control operations. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

§ 2664. Cost prorated; agreements

If in any area the owners of a majority of the acreage to be protected from pests execute agreements with the state, the commissioner shall be authorized to carry out control work on other adjacent or interior holdings, which, if uncontrolled, would cause a re-infestation of the controlled area. The cost of control work on such areas may be prorated among the owners who have executed agreements on the same basis as for their own lands, if they agree thereto. (Added 1977, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

 

Sub-Chapter 7: Uniform Fire Prevention Ticket

§ 2671. Jurisdiction

The criminal division of the superior court shall have exclusive jurisdiction over uniform fire prevention tickets issued under this subchapter. (Added 1987, No. 107, § 3; amended 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 238.)

§ 2672. Complaint or information and summons

(a) In any case involving a violation of subsection 2645(a) or 2648(a) of this title, the complaint or information and summons shall be in the form known as the Uniform Fire Prevention Ticket. The court administrator shall prepare the form for the uniform fire prevention ticket. The court administrator shall be responsible for all uniform fire prevention tickets issued to fire wardens, and shall prepare or cause to be prepared records and reports relating to uniform fire prevention tickets. Any fire warden may void any uniform fire prevention ticket by so marking the ticket and returning it to the court administrator. A prosecuting attorney may issue, amend or dismiss a fire prevention complaint.

(b) The uniform fire prevention ticket shall consist of four parts:

(1) the complaint or information, which shall include spaces for the signatures of the fire warden or other issuing officer, prosecuting attorney and judge or clerk;

(2) the fire warden's or issuing officer's record, which shall be a copy of the complaint or information;

(3) the prosecutor's record, which shall be a copy of the complaint or information; and

(4) the summons, which shall include a copy of the complaint or information, a waiver, and an explanation of rights.

(c) The reverse sides of the sheets shall be as set out in the form, with additions or deletions as are necessary to adapt the uniform fire prevention complaint to the court involved.

(d) The ticket shall contain the following two paragraphs which shall be prominently printed in boldfaced type:

(1) Failure to comply with the instructions on this ticket will result in a fine of up to $25.00 for each day of noncompliance.

(2) If you admit you have committed a fire prevention offense or are judged to have committed the offense you may be subject to a fine of up to $25.00 for each day of noncompliance.

(e) The uniform fire prevention ticket form shall be used in all cases involving violations of subsection 2645(a) or 2648(a) of this title, whether the case is prosecuted or the complaint issued by a fire warden or by any other person, or upon information or complaint issued by the state's attorney or other prosecuting officer. (Added 1987, No. 107, § 3.)

§ 2673. Procedure on failure to appear; notice; rules

If a defendant fails to appear or answer a fire prevention ticket or summons served upon the defendant and upon which a complaint has been filed, the court shall mail a notice to the defendant at the address stated in the complaint notifying the defendant that failure to appear will result in a fine. The notice shall be in the form prescribed by the court administrator, and a copy of the notice shall be sent to the town fire warden together with a copy of the complaint. (Added 1987, No. 107, § 3.)

§ 2674. Answer to uniform fire prevention ticket

(a) A person who is charged with committing a fire prevention offense may waive appearance and trial and plead guilty or nolo contendere or not guilty by a signed statement. The person shall submit a fine in an amount as established by the court with the signed statement. The court shall accept the signed statement accompanied by the fine assessed as a plea of guilty or nolo contendere as indicated on the signed statement and shall proceed accordingly.

(b) Fines shall be paid to, receipted by and accounted for by the clerk as required by court rules. Any fire warden or issuing officer who issues a complaint shall advise the defendant of the fines.

(c) If a defendant fails to answer or appear as directed on the fire prevention ticket or by the criminal division of the superior court judge, or fails to pay the fine imposed after judgment, the court may issue an appropriate order. (Added 1987, No. 107, § 3; amended 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 238.)