CHAPTER 442

FORMERLY

HOUSE BILL NO. 594

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 7 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO FORESTRY AND ESTABLISHING AN URBAN AND COMMUNITY FORESTRY PROGRAM.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:

Section 1. Amend Title 7 of the Delaware Code by adding thereto a new chapter, designated as Chapter 30, which new chapter shall read as follows:

"Chapter 30. Urban and Community Forestry Program.

§ 3001. Findings and policy.

The General Assembly finds and declares that urban and community forests arc a necessary and important part of community and urban environments, and are critical to the environmental, social and economic welfare of the State. The General Assembly also recognizes that the ability of all county and municipal governments to care for and manage their tree resources could be enhanced through technical and financial assistance from a State urban and community forestry program, and that properly planned and implemented local community forestry programs can provide the necessary basis for local governments to develop local tree care programs and improve quality of life. The General Assembly further declares that this Act only addresses the tree resources on publicly owned lands, and shall in no way interfere with the ability of a landowner to manage and/or harvest his or her forested lands.

§ 3002. Definitions.

As used in this chapter:

(1) 'Comprehensive Community Forestry P1an' is a document that describes how a government or other organization will manage the tree resources located on publicly owned lands within their jurisdiction. This plan should be based on an accurate inventory of both tree and other resources, such as existing roads and infrastructure, include a map of the publicly owned areas, the mission and objectives for these lands, and define the strategies and budget needed to achieve these objectives.

(2) 'Department' shall mean the Department of Agriculture.

(3) 'Local government' shall mean a municipality, county or other political subdivision of the State or any agency thereof.

(4) 'Secretary' shall mean the Secretary of Agriculture.

(5) 'Tree resources' are those trees located in street right-of-ways, parks, and other publicly owned lands.

(6) 'Urban and community forestry' shall mean the planting, protection, care, and management of trees and other related natural resources located on publicly owned lands within a city, town, or municipality.

§ 3003. Powers and Duties.

The Delaware Department of Agriculture Urban and Community Forestry Program, under the supervision of the Forestry Administrator, shall:

(a) Assist local governments and public organizations in establishing and maintaining urban and community forestry programs and in encouraging persons to engage in appropriate and approved practices with respect to tree management and care;

() Advise local governments and public organizations in the development and coordination of policies, programs, and activities for the promotion of urban and community forestry;

(a) Provide grants to local governments and public organizations applying for assistance in tree planting, tree management, and the development and implementation of a comprehensive community forestry plan on publicly owned lands to the extent monies are appropriated or otherwise made available therefore;

(b) Educate citizens on the importance of trees and forests and their role in the maintenance of a healthy environment;

(c) Provide technical assistance, planning, and analysis for projects related to urban and community forestry;

() Provide training assistance to local governments and public organizations regarding urban and community forestry issues such as tree diseases, insect programs, tree planting, and tree maintenance; and

(a) Provide volunteer opportunities for the State's citizens and public organizations interested in urban and community forestry activities.

§ 3004. Community Forestry Council.

(a) There is established in the Department a Community Forestry Council, which shall consist of 13 members, appointed by the Secretary. Membership shall include at least one representative from the USDA Cooperative Extension System, Governor's Forestry Advisory Council, the Master Gardener program, Delaware Association of Nurserymen, an arborist or similar tree care expert, county or municipal government official, a member of an institution of higher learning within the state who possesses urban forestry expertise, as well as a private citizen from each county. Each member shall be a citizen with expertise or interest in trees, forestry, or tree or forest management, maintenance or care. The Department's Urban Forestry Coordinator and Forestry Administrator shall serve as ex-officio members.

(b) Each member shall serve for a period of 3 years, and may succeed himself or herself for 1 additional term; provided, however, that where a member was initially appointed to fill a vacancy, such member may succeed himself for herself for only 1 additional full term. Any person appointed to fill a vacancy on the Council shall hold office for the remainder of the unexpired term of the former member. Each term of office shall expire on the date specified in the appointment, except that each member shall serve until a successor is duly appointed.

(c) A person who has never served on the Council may be appointed to the Council two consecutive times; but, no such person shall thereafter be eligible for two consecutive appointments. No person who has been twice appointed to the Council, or who has served on the Council for six years within any nine year period, shall again be appointed to the Board until an interim period of at least one term has expired since such person last served.

(d) Five members of Council shall be appointed each year for a three year term.

(e) A member of the Council shall be suspended or removed by the Secretary for misfeasance, nonfeasance, malfeasance, or neglect of duty.

(f) The provisions set forth for employees in Chapter 58 of Title 29, shall apply to all members of the Council, and to all agents appointed or otherwise employed the Council.

(g) A majority of the membership of the council shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of council business. Action may be taken and motions and resolutions adopted by the council at any meeting thereof by the affirmative votes of a majority of the full membership of the council.

() Members of the council shall serve without compensation, but may he reimbursed for expenses necessarily incurred in the discharge of their official duties.

(a) The Council shall elect a chairperson and vice-chairperson and other officers as may be necessary.

(b) The Council shall advise the Forestry Administrator and the Department on issues concerning community forestry and assist with such functions.

§ 3005. Duties of Forestry Administrator.

The Forestry Administrator, with the advice and assistance of the Council, may establish minimum standards, and provide a training skills and voluntary accreditation program, for representatives of local governments and organizations, the content of which shall be the appropriate and approved methods for the planting, protection, care, and management of trees and other related natural resources under their control.

§ 3006. Development, distribution of comprehensive community forestry plan, approval

The Forestry Administrator, with the advice and assistance of the Council, may develop and make available to local governments and organizations a list of elements found within a comprehensive community forestry plan. These guidelines shall establish, but not limit, the basic framework of an approved plan. The Forestry Administrator, with the advice and assistance of the Council, shall develop and make available to local governments and organizations a procedure for submitting for approval a comprehensive community forestry plan.

A local government may develop and submit to the Forestry Administrator for approval a comprehensive community forestry plan according to procedures established by the Department.

The Forestry Administrator, after review and comment by the Council, shall approve a comprehensive community forestry plan if the plan contains the basic elements of an approved plan and adequately addresses the needs of the community and the tree resource.

§ 3007. Annual report on the status of Delaware Urban and Community Forestry Program.

The Forestry Administrator's annual report shall contain a summary of the status of the Delaware Urban and Community Forestry Program including any recommendations for legislative or administrative action to improve implementation of that Act, and transmit that report to the Governor and the General Assembly.

§ 3008. Rules, regulations.

The Department shall adopt, pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act, Title 29, Chapter 101, such rules and regulations as may be necessary to implement this section, including establishment of:

a. Guidelines for development of a comprehensive community forestry plan;

b. Criteria for proper selection, planting and care of tree resources;

c. Procedures to accept and evaluate submitted comprehensive community forestry plans;

. Procedures for the review and approval of training and voluntary accreditation programs in tree care and management for local officials;

a. Criteria for ranking grant applications received from local governments and community organizations applying for assistance in tree planting, tree improvement, and the development and implementation of comprehensive community forestry plans."

Approved July 14, 1998