H. P. 1951

Joint Study Order to Establish the Committee to Study Access

to Private and Public Lands in Maine

WHEREAS, this joint study order establishes the Committee to Study Access to Private and Public Lands in Maine; and

the charge of this committee is vital to the interests of Maine citizens and camp and business owners in this State; and

the spring and summer months begin the seasons of peak use of the Maine woods for Maine citizens and tourists and, therefore, are the optimal time for the committee to study access issues; now, therefore, be it

ORDERED, the Senate concurring, that the Committee to Study Access to Private and Public Lands in Maine is established as follows.

1. Committee established. The Committee to Study Access to Private and Public Lands in Maine, referred to in this order as the “committee,” is established.

2. Committee membership.
The committee consists of 2 Senators appointed by the President of the Senate and 3 members of the House appointed by the Speaker of the House. When making the appointments, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House shall appoint at least one member of a party that does not hold the majority of seats in that body and shall give preference to members who serve the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

3. Committee chair. The first named Senator is the Senate chair of the committee and the first named member of the House is the House chair of the committee

4. Appointments; convening of committee. All appointments must be made no later than 30 days following the effective date of this order. The appointing authorities shall notify the Executive Director of the Legislative Council once all appointments have been made. When the appointment of all members has been completed, the chairs of the committee shall call and convene the first meeting of the committee, which must be no later than June 30, 2000.

5. Duties. The committee shall hold a minimum of 6 meetings at locations to be determined by the chairs. Geographic locations of meetings must be chosen to accommodate maximum participation by landowners and people using lands that are the subject of this study. The committee shall gather information and request necessary data from public and private entities in order to:

A. Estimate the number of acres of land owned or controlled by landowners or landowner associations to which access is controlled by checkpoints, gates or other means and estimate the number of people accessing those lands, categorize the various uses of those lands and assess environmental damage and costs to landowners associated with public access to those lands;

B. Determine the number of acres of land managed by the Bureau of Parks and Lands within the Department of Conservation or the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife that are commonly accessed via roads on which checkpoints are located and fees are charged.

C. Review existing fee structures for accessing lands beyond checkpoints operated by landowners or landowner associations and compare these fees and systems of public access to access and fee systems in other states; and

D. Assess the need for legislation to ensure reasonable access to the public resources of this state.

6. Staff assistance. Upon approval of the Legislative Council, the Office of Policy and Legal Analysis shall provide necessary staffing services to the committee.

7. Compensation. The members of the committee are entitled to receive the legislative per diem as defined in the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 3, section 2 and reimbursement for travel and other necessary expenses related to their attendance at meetings to fulfill their duties as charged.

8. Report. The committee shall submit its report together with any recommended implementing legislation to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over parks and lands matters no later than November 1, 2000. If the committee requires a limited extension of time to complete its study and make its report, it may apply to the Legislative Council, which may grant an extension. Upon submission of its required report, the committee terminates. The joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over parks and lands matters may report out a bill during the First Regular Session of the 120th Legislature concerning the findings and recommendations of the committee.

9. Budget.
The chairs of the committee, with assistance from the committee staff, shall administer the committee’s budget. Within 10 days after its first meeting, the committee shall present a work plan and proposed budget to the Legislative Council for approval. The committee may not incur expenses that would result in the committee’s exceeding its approved budget. Upon request from the committee, the Executive Director of the Legislative Council shall promptly provide the committee chairs and staff with a status report on the committee’s budget, expenditures incurred and paid and available funds.