Analysis

Synopsis:

 House Bill 57 (HB 57) enacts the Prescribed Burning Act that allows private landowners to conduct prescribed burns. It provides for prescribed burn permits and limits civil liability. HB 57 institutes a prescribed burn manager certification program that provides for prescribed burn training. It requires the establishment and distribution of fees and expands uses of the Forest Land Protection Revolving Fund.

Analysis:

 House Bill 57 (HB 57) enacts the Prescribed Burning Act (PBA) that allows private landowners to conduct prescribed burns under certain conditions and with some exceptions such as drought conditions.

HB 57 imposes civil liability on the private landowner, the landowner’s agent, contractor or legally authorized designee if he person is negligent in starting controlling or extinguishing the prescribed burn. The amount of damage that may be collected depends if the person liable is a certified prescribed burn manager or not.

It directs the department to promulgate rules to establish a model prescribed burn permit for use by counties or municipalities and specifies essential terms and conditions of such a permit including standards for data collection; notification to the public; common terminology and definitions; and types of prescribed burns authorized by the permit. HB 57 allows counties and municipalities, at their individual discretion, to adopt ordinances requiring private landowners to obtain a prescribed burn permit, using the model developed by the department.

HB 57 requires the department to create a prescribed burn manager certification program through rule-making that is accessible to private landowners, their agents etc. It requires the extension service to provide training which is a required part of the certification program.  The training will include legal requirements; safety; weather; fire behavior; smoke management; prescribed burn techniques; public relations; and planning and contingencies.  The rules may include grounds and processes for renewal, suspension and revocation of the certification; and application, certification and renewal fees.

It defines certified prescribed burn manager; department; division; extension service; pile burning; and prescribed burn

HB 57 amends Section 30-32-4 NMSA 1978 (Damages to Persons Injured) to create an exception for those conducting a prescribed burn pursuant to the PBA.

HB 57 expands the sources of revenue for the Forest Land Protection Revolving Fund (Section 68-2-28 NMSA 1978) by directing the fees collected under the PBA be deposited into this fund and that the fund may be used to administer the PBA.

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