North Carolina General Statutes § 113-77.9 Acquisition of lands with funds from the Natural Heritage Trust Fund
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(a) Proposals. From time to time, but at least once each year, the Secretary, the Chairman of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the Commissioner of Agriculture, and the Secretary of Cultural Resources may propose to the Trustees lands to be acquired with funds from the Fund. For each tract or interest proposed, the Secretary, the Chairman of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the Commissioner of Agriculture, and the Secretary of Cultural Resources shall provide the Trustees with the following information:
(1) The value of the land for recreation, forestry, fish and wildlife habitat, and wilderness purposes, and its consistency with the plan developed pursuant to the State Parks Act, the State's comprehensive plan for outdoor recreation, parks, natural areas development, and wildlife management goals and objectives.
(2) Any rare or endangered species on or near the land.
(3) Whether the land contains a relatively undisturbed and outstanding example of a native North Carolina ecological community that is now uncommon.
(4) Whether the land contains a major river or tributary, watershed, wetland, significant littoral, estuarine, or aquatic site, or important geologic feature.
(5) The extent to which the land represents a type of landscape, natural feature, or natural area that is not currently in the State's inventory of parks and natural areas.
(6) Other sources of funds that may be available to assist in acquiring the land.
(7) The State department or division that will be responsible for managing the land.
(8) What assurances exist that the land will not be used for purposes other than those for which it is being acquired.
(9) Whether the site or structure is of such historical significance as to be essential to the development of a balanced State program of historic properties.
(b) Land Acquisition and Debt Service. The Trustees may authorize expenditures from the Fund for the following purposes:
(1) To acquire land that represents the ecological diversity of North Carolina, including natural features such as riverine, montane, coastal, and geologic systems and other natural areas to ensure their preservation and conservation for recreational, scientific, educational, cultural, and aesthetic purposes, and to retire debt incurred for this purpose under Article 9 of Chapter 142 of the General Statutes.
(2) To acquire land as additions to the system of parks, State trails, aesthetic forests, fish and wildlife management areas, wild and scenic rivers, and natural areas for the beneficial use and enjoyment of the public, and to retire debt incurred for this purpose under Article 9 of Chapter 142 of the General Statutes.
(3) Subject to the limitations of subsection (b2) of this section, to acquire land that contributes to the development of a balanced State program of historic properties.
(b1) Priorities. In authorizing expenditures from the Fund to acquire land pursuant to this Article, the first priority shall be the protection of land with outstanding natural or cultural heritage values. Land with outstanding natural heritage values is land that is identified by the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program as having State or national significance. Land with outstanding cultural heritage values is land that is identified, inventoried, or evaluated by the Department of Cultural Resources. The Trustees shall be guided by any priorities established by the Secretary, the Chairman of the Wildlife Resources Commission, the Commissioner of Agriculture, and the Secretary of Cultural Resources in their proposals made pursuant to subsection (a) of this section.
(b2) Historic Properties. The Trustees may authorize expenditure of up to twenty‑five percent (25%) of the funds credited to the Fund pursuant to G.S. 105‑228.30 during the preceding fiscal year to acquire land under subdivision (3) of subsection (b) of this section. No other funds in the Fund may be used for expenditures to acquire land under subdivision (3) of subsection (b) of this section.
(b3) Debt. Of the funds credited annually to the Fund pursuant to G.S. 105‑228.30, the Trustees may authorize expenditure of up to sixty percent (60%) to reimburse the General Fund for debt service on special indebtedness to be issued or incurred under Article 9 of Chapter 142 of the General Statutes for the purposes provided in subdivisions (b)(1) and (2) of this section. In order to authorize expenditure of funds for debt service reimbursement, the Trustees must identify to the State Treasurer and the Department of Administration the specific natural heritage projects for which they would like special indebtedness to be issued or incurred and the annual amount they intend to make available, and request the State Treasurer to issue or incur the indebtedness. After special indebtedness has been issued or incurred for a natural heritage project requested by the Trustees, the Trustees must direct the State Treasurer to credit to the General Fund each year the actual aggregate principal and interest payments to be made in that year on the special indebtedness, as identified by the State Treasurer.
(c) Other Purposes. The Trustees may authorize expenditures from the Fund to pay for the inventory of natural areas conducted under the Natural Heritage Program established pursuant to the Nature Preserves Act, Article 9A of Chapter 113A of the General Statutes. The Trustees may also authorize expenditures from the Fund to pay for conservation and protection planning and for informational programs for owners of natural areas, as defined in G.S. 113A‑164.3. The Trustees shall authorize expenditures from the Fund not to exceed seventy‑five thousand dollars ($75,000) to pay the cost of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to administer the Plant Conservation Program. The Trustees shall authorize expenditures from the Fund not to exceed three hundred twenty‑five thousand dollars ($325,000) to pay the cost of supporting staff in the Office of Conservation Planning and Community Affairs of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
(d) Acquisition. The Department of Administration may, pursuant to G.S. 143‑341, acquire by purchase, gift, or devise all lands selected by the Trustees for acquisition pursuant to this Article. Title to any land acquired pursuant to this Article shall be vested in the State. A State agency with management responsibility for land acquired pursuant to this Article may enter into a management agreement or lease with a county, city, town, or private nonprofit organization qualified under G.S. 105‑151.12 and G.S. 105‑130.34 and certified under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code to aid in managing the land. A management agreement or lease shall be executed by the Department of Administration pursuant to G.S. 143‑341.
(d1) Local Reimbursement. In any county in which real property was purchased pursuant to subsection (d) of this section as additions to the fish and wildlife management areas and where less than twenty‑five percent (25%) of the land area is privately owned at the time of purchase, that county and any other local taxing unit shall be annually reimbursed, for a period of 20 years, from funds available to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission in an amount equal to the amount of ad valorem taxes that would have been paid to the taxing unit if the property had remained subject to taxation.
(e) Reports. The Secretary shall maintain and annually revise a list of grants made pursuant to this Article. The list shall include the acreage of each tract, the county in which the tract is located, the amount awarded from the Fund to acquire the tract, and the State department or division responsible for managing the tract. The Secretary shall furnish a copy of the list to each Trustee, the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations, the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Natural and Economic Resources, the Fiscal Research Division, and the Environmental Review Commission no later than October 1 of each year.
(f) Hunting and Fishing. No provision of this Article shall be construed to eliminate hunting and fishing, as regulated by the laws of the State of North Carolina, upon properties purchased pursuant to this Article. (1987, c. 871, s. 1; 1989, c. 86, s. 1; 1991, c. 689, s. 339; 1991 (Reg. Sess., 1992), c. 1044, s. 66; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 772, s. 3; 1997‑366, s. 2; 1998‑212, s. 14.6(b); 2004‑179, s. 3.4; 2007‑323, s. 29.14(g); 2009‑484, s. 14; 2011‑145, s. 13.16.)
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Last modified: February 21, 2012