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Introduced Version Senate Bill 690 History

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Key: Green = existing Code. Red = new code to be enacted

FISCAL NOTEWEST virginia legislature

2020 regular session

Introduced

Senate Bill 690

By Senators Maynard and Cline

[Introduced February 4, 2020; referred
to the Committee on Government Organization; 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 §5B-2-17; to amend said code by adding thereto a new article, designated §5B-2J-1, §5B-2J-2, §5B-2J-3, §5B-2J-4, and §5B-2J-5; to amend and reenact §17-2A-11 of said code; to amend said code by adding thereto a new section, designated §17-2A-11a; to amend said code by adding thereto a new article, designated §17A-13-1; and to amend and reenact §20-5-2 of said code, all relating to overland recreation; creating an Overland Recreation Fund for development and maintenance of public roads suitable for overland recreation; revising digital road map requirements; requiring an inventory and mapping of state forest roads; describing allowable uses of the Overland Recreation Fund; defining terms; requiring the development of a comprehensive recreation plan and plans for the construction and maintenance of suitable roads; establishing a program of grants and cooperative agreements to develop and maintain suitable roads and access thereto; mandating review of expenditures; providing for appeals of grant or agreement decisions; requiring rulemaking; permitting the operation of street-legal special purpose vehicles on highways; providing for registration of street-legal special purpose vehicles; establishing licensing and equipment requirements for street-legal special purpose vehicles; granting the Recreational Trails Advisory Board authority to use those funds from the Overland Recreation Fund for the sole purpose of building an overland trail system in West Virginia; setting forth the responsibilities of the Division of Motor Vehicles, the Division of Natural Resources, and the Division of Tourism; and allowing primitive overland camping on state land.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

CHAPTER 5B. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ACT OF 1985.


ARTICLE 2. WEST VIRGINIA DEVELOPMENT OFFICE.


§5B-2-17. Development of comprehensive recreation plan and cooperation with other public land-owning entities.


The Executive Director of the West Virginia Development Office shall develop a comprehensive and strategic plan for the support and development of outdoor recreation across the state. This plan shall consider and address all forms of outdoor recreation including, but not limited to, camping, hunting, fishing, self-propelled and overland recreation and travel, equestrian activities, water-based recreation, snow sports, sight-seeing, nature study and observation, plein air arts, adventure sports, and lodging at or near parks and other recreational areas. The plan shall take into consideration the recreational activities available and uses permitted on all publicly owned tracts of land of 1,000 acres or more, be they owned by a federal agency, a state agency, or by a political subdivision of the state. The executive director is authorized to take such acts necessary to cooperate with the authorities owning and managing these properties in order to develop recreation plans consistent with the legal uses and ownership objectives for each property.

ARTICLE 2J. OVERLAND RECREATION FUND.

§5B-2J-1. Definitions.


As used in this article:

“Overland recreation” means recreation using vehicles in off-road transport and travel exclusively or in combination with highway travel;

“Overlanding” means a form of recreation using sport-utility vehicles, or other vehicles suitable for travel on primitive roads, for multiday trekking and camping in remote areas without the need for, or access to, retail, dining, or support services for extended periods of the trip;

“Public roads suitable for overland recreation” means public roads or highways, as defined in §17-1-3 of this code, upon which all-terrain vehicles are not prohibited pursuant to §17F-1-1 of this code; and

§5B-2J-2. Creation of Overland Recreation Fund.


There is hereby created in the Treasury a dedicated account to be known as the Overland Recreation Fund. Expenditures from the fund shall be for the purposes set forth in this article and shall be made only in accordance with appropriation by the Legislature. Unexpended or unappropriated money in the fund does not revert to the General Fund.

§5B-2J-3. Purposes and uses of the Overland Recreation Fund; comprehensive planning.


Interest and principle from the Overland Recreation Fund shall be used solely for construction, reconstruction, repair, and maintenance of public roads suitable for overland recreation, and the payment of obligations incurred in the construction, reconstruction, repair, and maintenance of public roads suitable for overland recreation. These terms include the planning and acquisitions necessary to carry out the construction, reconstruction, repair, and maintenance of the roads and the development of mapping, signage, and access areas to facilitate the use of these roads by the public. Reconstruction, repair, and maintenance of roads shall also include the removal and rerouting of roadways as well as restoration, mitigation, and remediation work to protect or rehabilitate environmental, historical, or cultural areas adversely affected by existing roads or by new construction activities.

The Executive Director of the West Virginia Development Office shall, in collaboration with the Commissioner of Highways, develop a comprehensive plan for the identification, maintenance, construction, and interconnection of public roads suitable for overland recreation for which money from the Overland Recreation Fund may be expended pursuant to this section. This comprehensive plan shall be reviewed and revised on a regular basis, but not more often than annually, to maintain a system of public roads suitable for overland recreation in order to promote tourism, the enjoyment of public lands, and commerce across the state.

§5B-2J-4. Overland recreation grant programs; review and appeal process.


(a) The West Virginia Development Office shall develop and implement a grant and cooperative agreement program to support the planning, acquisition, development, maintenance, administration, operation, enforcement, restoration, and conservation of public roads suitable for overland recreation and access to them. Fifty percent of the money appropriated from the Overland Recreation Fund shall be dedicated to the grant and cooperative agreement program.

(b) The grants and money for cooperative agreements from available funds may be awarded or expended in accordance with the following categories:

(1) Construction and maintenance. — Under this subdivision, funds shall be available for grants and cooperative agreements for the acquisition, construction, operation, planning, development, or conservation of public roads and associated facilities suitable for overland recreation. Guidelines developed to implement this subdivision shall at a minimum:

(A) Give preference to applications that sustain existing or extend authorized overland recreation opportunities; and

(B) Give additional consideration to applications that improve facilities for access to overland recreation opportunities.

(2) Reconstruction and Restoration. — Under this subdivision, funds shall be available for grants and cooperative agreements for projects that restore, or repair habitat damaged by overland recreation.

(A) Eligible projects include:

(i) Removal of a road or trail or restoration of an area associated with the rerouting and subsequent closure of a designated road or trail;

(ii) Removal of roads or trails and the restoration of damaged habitats in any area that is not designated for motorized vehicle use;

(iii) The removal of closed roads or trails, or a portion of a closed road or trail, that will help to prevent off-highway motor vehicle access to closed areas;

(iv) Scientific and cultural studies regarding the impact of overland recreation not otherwise required by state or federal laws;

(v) Planning to identify appropriate restoration techniques, strategies, and project implementation, including planning associated with environmental review; and

(vi) Restoration projects that generally improve and restore the function of natural resource systems damaged by overland recreation activities.

(B) Applications that would affect lands identified as inventoried roadless areas by the Forest Service of the United States Department of Agriculture are eligible for cooperative agreements under this subdivision if the application is for a project that does any of the following:

(i) Realigns a forest system road or trail to prevent irreparable resource damage that arises from the design, location, use, or deterioration of a classified route and that cannot be mitigated by route maintenance;

(ii) Reconstructs a national forest system road or trail to implement a route safety improvement project on a classified route determined to be hazardous on the basis of accident experience or accident potential on that route; or

(iii) Maintains a road that is included in the National Forest System Roads and Trails on or before January 1, 2009.

(C) Rules and program guidelines developed to implement this subdivision shall at a minimum do all of the following:

(i) Give additional consideration to applications for projects that will restore areas that have experienced the most damage from motorized use or face the highest threat of significant environmental damage from motorized use; and

(ii) Encourage public agencies managing lands to prepare and implement a management and enforcement plan to prevent recurring damage from unauthorized use.

(c) Eligible applicants include local, state, and federal agencies, federally or state-recognized Native American Tribes, educational institutions, certified community conservation corps, resource conservation districts, and nonprofit organizations with demonstrable knowledge, skill, or experience relevant to the proposed project.

(d) Legislative and procedural rules developed to implement programs authorized by this section shall promote the following objectives:

(1) Distribute grants and cooperative agreements on a competitive basis;

(2) Be developed with public input, including focus groups;

(3) Require applications to be in accordance with local or federal plans and the strategic plan for overland recreation prepared by the office;

(4) Require grant applicants to comply with the state’s environmental laws;

(5) Require the applicant to agree to provide matching funds or the equivalent value of services or material used, in an amount not less than 25 percent of the total project cost, except for the category of restoration, which may not be less than 10 percent of the total project cost; and

(6) Fund all eligible applications to the extent feasible.

(e) Every grant award involving activities on any public lands shall be subject to the following conditions:

(1) The applicant shall include a work plan for the project;

(2) The applicant shall provide written permission from the appropriate land manager to conduct a project, including a description of how the project fits with the land management goals of the area;

(3) The applicant shall provide matching funds or the equivalent value of volunteer services or material used, in an amount not less than 25 percent of the total project cost, except for the category of restoration, which may not be less than 10 percent of the total project cost; and

(4) The applicant shall be fiscally responsible for adhering to the terms and conditions of the grants.

(f) All grants and cooperative agreements involving ground disturbing activities shall be subject to the uniform application of soil and wildlife habitat protection standards. If the project involves a ground disturbing activity:

(1) The recipient shall also prepare a wildlife habitat protection program to sustain a viable species composition for the project area and agrees that, whenever that program is not being met in any portion of a project area, the recipient shall close temporarily that noncompliant portion until the program’s requirements are met;

(2) The recipient agrees that if there is soil erosion in any portion of a project area, the recipient shall close temporarily that noncompliant portion to repair and prevent accelerated erosion;

(3) The recipient has identified the potential for the project to reduce illegal and unauthorized motor vehicle use, both on-highway and off-highway activities, in the surrounding areas; and

(4) The recipient has included in the application a description of how it is meeting and will meet the operations and maintenance needs of any existing project under its jurisdiction.

(g) The office shall conduct an annual review of the grants and cooperative agreements program to evaluate the effectiveness of the awarded activities in serving the office’s comprehensive recreation plan to guide the office in consideration of future project applications.

(h) The office shall establish an appeal process as part of the grants and cooperative agreements program, subject to the following conditions:

(1) Any person may petition the executive director for an appeal upon the following grounds:

(A) The office failed to follow regulations established for the award of grants and cooperative agreements; and

(B) The office lacked sufficient factual evidence to support or deny the award of a grant or cooperative agreement;

(2) A petition for appeal must be filed in writing within 30 calendar days following the notice of award or denial of a grant or cooperative agreement. Notice of the decision or the rejection of the appeal shall be issued within 60 days following the filing of an appeal; and

(3) A person aggrieved by the award or denial of a grant or funding for a cooperative agreement is required to exhaust this appeal process prior to seeking other legal remedies through the courts.

§5B-2J-5. Legislative rules.


The executive director shall propose rules for legislative approval, in accordance with the provisions of §29A-3-1 et seq. of this code, to implement the provisions of this article.


CHAPTER 17. ROADS AND HIGHWAYS.

ARTICLE 2A. WEST VIRGINIA COMMISSIONER OF HIGHWAYS.

§17-2A-11. Road maps; digital road map.

(a) The commissioner shall prepare and currently maintain a master road and highway map which will show all of the state roads and highways located, created, and classified as provided by law; the mileage of roads and highways; the status of improvements; and travel conditions when practical. The commissioner may make economical reproductions of the map for official use and public information purposes, including a digital road map. The goal is for the maps to be computerized and searchable by the public to map routes for travel throughout the state. 

(b) The In addition to any other representations deemed useful by the commissioner, the digital road map shall indicate whether public roads are unpaved and unimproved, unpaved and improved, unlined and paved, or lined and paved be capable of displaying or indicating the type of roads or highways using the following classifications: (1) Primitive or unimproved roads; (2) graded, drained, soil-, gravel-, or stone-surfaced roads; (3) paved, but unpainted roads; (4) roads with a center line or more than two lanes; and (5) interstate highways. The digital road map shall further indicate the types of vehicles that may use each road, including full-size vehicles and off-highway vehicles, such as all-terrain vehicles, utility-terrain vehicles, motorcycles, and off-road vehicles.

§17-2A-11a. Inventory and mapping of all roads in state forests, state parks, national forests and national parks.


(a) The Division of Highways, before July 1, 2021, shall map and make available to the public a comprehensive inventory of forest roads that are state roads.

(b) The inventory shall meet both of the following requirements:

(1) Identify the location, condition, and surface type of road in the state forests, state parks, national forests and national parks; and

(2) Determine types of motorized and nonmotorized use currently restricted on each park and forest road segment and the seasons during which those uses are currently restricted.


Chapter 17A. MOTOR VEHICLE ADMINSTRATION, REGISTRATION, CERTIFICATE Of TITLE, AND aNTITHEFT PROVISIONS.

ARTICLE 13. Street-legal special purpose vehicles.


§17A-13-1. Street-legal special purpose vehicles; operation on highways; registration procedures; licensing requirements; equipment requirements.

(a) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section an individual may operate a “street-legal special purpose vehicle” on a street or highway.

(b) For the purposes of this section:

“Special purpose vehicles” include all-terrain vehicles, utility terrain vehicles, mini-trucks, Mahindra-style utility terrain vehicles, pneumatic tired military vehicles, and full-size special purpose-built vehicles, including those built by the original equipment manufacturer and those that have been modified.

“Street-legal special purpose vehicle” is a special purpose vehicle that meets the requirements of this section.

(c) An individual may not operate a special purpose vehicle as a street-legal special purpose vehicle on a highway if:

(1) The highway is an interstate system; or

(2) The highway is in a county of the first class and both of the following criterion is met:

(A) The highway is near a grade separated portion of the highway; and

(B) The highway has a posted speed limit higher than 55 miles per hour.

(d) Nothing in this section authorizes the operation of a street-legal special purpose vehicle in an area that is not open to motor vehicle use.

(e) A street-legal special purpose vehicle may be registered in the same manner as provided for motorcycles pursuant to this chapter;

(f) Except as provided in subsection (e) of this section, a street-legal special purpose vehicle shall comply with the licensing, fees, and other requirements for motorcycles pursuant to this chapter;

(g) The owner of a special purpose vehicle being operated as a street-legal special purpose vehicle shall ensure that the vehicle is equipped with:

(1) One or more headlamps.

(2) One or more tail lamps;

(3) One or more brake lamps;

(4) A tail lamp or other lamp constructed and placed to illuminate the registration plate with a white light;

(5) One or more red reflectors on the rear;

(6) Amber or red electric turn signals, one on each side of the front and rear;

(7) Braking system, other than a parking brake;

(8) A horn or other warning device;

(9) A muffler and, if required by an applicable federal statute or rule, an emission control system;

(10) Rearview mirrors on the right and left side of the driver;

(11) A windshield, unless the operator wears eye protection while operating the vehicle;

(12) A speedometer, illuminated for nighttime operation;

(13) For vehicles designed by the manufacturer for carrying one or more passengers, a seat designed for passengers; and

(14) Tires that have at least 2/32 inches or greater tire tread.

(h) Mini-trucks may not be operated as street-legal special purpose vehicles on highways that have been constructed pursuant to a federal highways program.

(i) The fees collected by the Division of Motor Vehicles shall be deposited in the newly created Overland Recreation Fund to be administered by the division. Moneys in that fund may only be used for the overlanding of special purpose vehicles on state-owned land as determined by the Recreational Trails Advisory Board created by §5B-2-9a of this code for the sole purpose of building an overland trail system in West Virginia.

(j) The Division of Highways shall be responsible for mapping and signage of the overland trail system. The Tourism Office shall be responsible for promoting and marketing the overland trail system.

(k) The Division of Motor Vehicles and the Division of Highways shall propose rules for legislative approval in accordance with §29A-3-1 et seq. of this code to implement this section.

CHAPTER 20. NATURAL RESOURCES.

ARTICLE 5. PARKS AND RECREATION.


§20-5-2. Powers of the director with respect to the section of parks and recreation.


(a) The Director of the Division of Natural Resources is responsible for the execution and administration of the provisions in this article as an integral part of the parks and recreation program of the state and shall organize and staff the section of parks and recreation for the orderly, efficient, and economical accomplishment of these ends. The authority granted in the year 1994 to the Director of the Division of Natural Resources to employ up to six additional unclassified personnel to carry out the parks’ functions of the Division of Natural Resources is continued.

(b) The Director of the Division of Natural Resources shall:

(1) Establish, manage and maintain the state’s parks and recreation system for the benefit of the people of this state and do all things necessary and incidental to the development and administration of the state’s parks and recreation system;

(2) Acquire property for the state in the name of the Division of Natural Resources by purchase, lease, or agreement; retain, employ, and contract with legal advisors and consultants; or accept or reject for the state, in the name of the division, gifts, donations, contributions, bequests, or devises of money, security, or property, both real and personal, and any interest in the property, including lands and waters, for state park or recreational areas for the purpose of providing public recreation: Provided, That the provisions of section  §20-1-20 et seq. of this code are specifically made applicable to any acquisitions of land: Provided, however, That any sale, exchange or transfer of property for the purposes of completing land acquisitions or providing improved recreational opportunities to the citizens of the state is subject to the procedures of §5A-10-1 et seq. of this code: Provided further, That no sale of any park or recreational area property, including lands and waters, used for purposes of providing public recreation on the effective date of this article and no privatization of any park may occur without statutory authority;

(3) Approve and direct the use of all revenue derived from the operation of the state parks and public recreation system for the operation, maintenance and improvement of the system, individual projects of the system or for the retirement of park development revenue bonds: Provided, That all revenues derived from the operation of the state parks and public recreation system shall be invested by the Treasurer and all proceeds from investment earnings shall accrue for the exclusive use for the operation, maintenance, and improvement of the system, individual projects of the system or for the retirement of park development revenue bonds;

(4) Effectively promote and market the state’s parks, state forests, state recreation areas and wildlife recreational resources by approving the use of no less than 20 percent of the:

(A) Funds appropriated for purposes of advertising and marketing expenses related to the promotion and development of tourism, pursuant to §29-22-18(j) of this code; and

(B) Funds authorized for expenditure from the Tourism Promotion Fund for purposes of direct advertising, pursuant to §5B-2-12 and §29-22A-10 of this code;

(5) Issue park development revenue bonds as provided in this article;

(6) Provide for the construction and operation of cabins, lodges, resorts, restaurants and other developed recreational service facilities, subject to the provisions of §20-5-15 and §20-1-20 of this code;

(7) The director may sell timber that has been severed in a state park incidental to the construction of park facilities or related infrastructure where the construction is authorized by the Legislature in accordance with §20-1-20 of this code, and the sale of the timber is otherwise in the best interest of park development, without regard to proceeds derived from the sale of timber. The gross proceeds derived from the sale of timber shall be deposited into the operating budget of the park from which the timber was harvested;

(8) Propose rules for legislative approval in accordance with the provisions of §29A-3-1 et seq. of this code to control the uses of parks: Provided, That the director may not permit public hunting, except as otherwise provided in this section, the exploitation of minerals or the harvesting of timber for commercial purposes in any state park;

(9) Exempt designated state parks from the requirement that all payments must be deposited in a bank within 24 hours for amounts less than $500 notwithstanding any other provision of this code to the contrary: Provided, That such designated parks shall make a deposit in any amount no less than every seven working days;

(10) Waive the use fee normally charged to an individual or group for one day’s use of a picnic shelter or one week’s use of a cabin in a state recreation area when the individual or group donates the materials and labor for the construction of the picnic shelter or cabin: Provided, That the individual or group was authorized by the director to construct the picnic shelter or cabin and that it was constructed in accordance with the authorization granted and the standards and requirements of the division pertaining to the construction. The individual or group to whom the waiver is granted may use the picnic shelter for one reserved day or the cabin for one reserved week during each calendar year until the amount of the donation equals the amount of the loss of revenue from the waiver or until the individual dies or the group ceases to exist, whichever first occurs. The waiver is not transferable. The director shall permit free use of picnic shelters or cabins to individuals or groups who have contributed materials and labor for construction of picnic shelters or cabins prior to the effective date of this section. The director shall propose a legislative rule for legislative approval in accordance with §29A-3-1 et seq. of this code governing the free use of picnic shelters or cabins provided in this section, the eligibility for free use, the determination of the value of the donations of labor and materials, the appropriate definitions of a group and the maximum time limit for the use;

(11) Provide within the parks a market for West Virginia arts, crafts and products, which shall permit gift shops within the parks to offer for sale items purchased on the open market from local artists, artisans, craftsmen, and suppliers and local or regional crafts cooperatives;

(12) Provide that reservations for reservable campsites may be made, upon two days’ advance notice, for any date for which space is available within a state park or recreational area managed by the parks and recreation section;

(13) Provide that reservations for all state parks and recreational areas managed by the parks and recreation section of the division may be made by use of a valid credit card;

(14) Develop a plan to establish a centralized computer reservation system for all state parks and recreational areas managed by the parks and recreation section and to implement the plan as funds become available; and

(15) Notwithstanding the provisions of §20-2-58 of this code, the Natural Resources Commission is authorized to promulgate rules in accordance with the provisions of §29A-3-1 et seq. of this code to permit and regulate the hunting of white-tail deer in any state park as considered appropriate by the director to protect the ecological integrity of the area.

(16) Permit the use of drones within State Parks, Forests and Rail Trails.  Persons who intend to operate an unmanned aircraft system shall register at the area superintendent’s office prior to engaging or participating in the operation of any unmanned aircraft system and specify where the activity will take place. A superintendent may only prohibit, issue directives, or implement time and place restrictions on unmanned aircraft system use in areas or portions thereof in order to: (i) Protect the safety and privacy of other park users, (ii) protect area facilities, (iii) protect the peaceful and quiet atmosphere of the area, or (iv) prevent harassment of wildlife. Upon registration the superintendent shall provide a list and map to the unmanned aircraft system operator of any prohibited areas within the park. Participants in drone operation activities assume full responsibility and liability for any risk or injury related to using an unmanned aircraft system.

(17) Permit primitive overland camping in secluded, remote areas of state lands with connecting trails or roads. Primitive camping means being without neighbors, electricity, running water, bathroom facilities and, often times, cell service.

 

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to promote the development of overland recreation in West Virginia by: establishing a dedicated fund for the acquisition, construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation of roads suitable for overland recreation; establishing a grant program with administrative provisions to review, approve, and manage applications for grants; permitting street-legal special purpose vehicles to be operated on highways; establishing registration procedures for street-legal special purpose vehicles; establishing licensing and equipment requirements for street-legal special purpose vehicles; granting the Recreational Trails Advisory Board authority to use those funds from the Overland Recreation Fund for the sole purpose of building an overland trail system in West Virginia; setting forth the responsibilities of the Division of Motor Vehicles, the Division of Highways, and the Office of Tourism; and permitting primitive overland camping on state land. The bill defines terms. The bill requires rule-making.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from a heading or the present law and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.

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