WEST virginia legislature
2018 regular session
Senate Bill 323
By Senators Beach and Ojeda
19, 2018; Referred
to the Committee on Economic Development; and then to the Committee on Finance]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §20-1-15, relating to creating the Office of Outdoor Recreation; authorizing the hiring of a director of the office and any other personnel necessary; setting forth the duties of the office; requiring an annual report to the Legislature; requiring collaboration with the West Virginia Development Office; requiring consultation with the outdoor recreation community; and authorizing the use of appropriated funds for a grant and loan program to further outdoor recreation in the state.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
ARTICLE 1. ORGANIZATION AND ADMINISTRATION.
§20-1-15. Office of Outdoor Recreation.
(a) In addition to the sections contained within the Division of Natural Resources, as authorized in §20-1-14, the Office of Outdoor Recreation is hereby established within the Division of Natural Resources, subject to the provisions of this section. The director shall select and designate a competent and qualified person to be the chief of the Office of Outdoor Recreation. The office shall consist of the chief and all personnel employed in the office.
(b) The office shall:
(1) Coordinate outdoor recreation policy within the sections of the division and between the division and federal, state, regional and local government entities and nongovernmental entities;
(2) Assist in developing or updating the outdoor recreation management strategies of the division;
(3) Collaborate with the West Virginia Tourism Office and the West Virginia Tourism Commission to create effective forums for communicating recreation-based initiatives and for sharing best practices;
(4) Serve as a clearinghouse and information center for outdoor recreation stakeholders;
(5) Develop data, independently or through contracts with appropriate public or private agencies, on the social, economic and resource impacts of outdoor recreation in this state;
(6) Promote the health and social benefits of outdoor recreation in coordination with other related state programs and initiatives; and
(7) Report on the office’s activities to the Legislature at least once per calendar year, including an analysis of the impacts of outdoor recreation in this state and any recommendations for legislation or policies and initiatives.
(c) The office shall collaborate and coordinate with the West Virginia Development Office, representatives of local governments, the outdoor recreation industry and other outdoor recreation stakeholders to promote economic development in this state. In furtherance of promoting economic development, the office may recommend, adopt or assist in the implementation of policies and initiatives that:
(1) Encourage development of the outdoor recreation industry in a manner that improves recreational opportunities in this state;
(2) Maximize public and private investment in the outdoor recreation industry and in outdoor recreation activities in this state;
(3) Enhance quality of life and economic vibrancy in communities across the state;
(4) Strike a sensitive balance between development and preservation of the unique natural experience provided by West Virginia’s outdoor recreation resources, and between motorized and nonmotorized outdoor recreation activities; and
(5) Take a proactive approach to enhancing regional and local outdoor recreation infrastructure.
(d) The office shall regularly consult with outdoor recreation representatives to assist the office in carrying out its duties. When consulting with outdoor recreation representatives, the office shall take into consideration geographic and demographic diversity and include feedback from members of the outdoor recreation industry, the environmental community, the natural resources community, other outdoor recreation stakeholders and appropriate state, regional and local governmental entities.
(e) The office may, with funds appropriated by the Legislature for this specific purpose, finance programs and projects determined to further outdoor recreation or the outdoor recreation industry within this state by making grants or loans using moneys appropriated to the Outdoor Recreation Grant or Loan Program.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to create the Office of Outdoor Recreation.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from a heading or the present law and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.