Substitute House Bill No. 6754

Public Act No. 01-150

AN ACT CONCERNING NATURAL RESOURCES PROGRAMS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 26-142a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) For the purposes of this section, an environmental tourism cruise vessel is one which is operated for a fee for the purpose of education and observation and retention of marine and estuarine resources collected under the conditions of the permit issued under this section, except that holders of a permit issued under section 26-60 shall not be required to obtain a permit under this section. No person shall operate, use or attempt to operate or use a vessel for commercial fishing or landing activities authorized by this section unless the commissioner has issued a vessel permit for such vessel to the owner of the vessel. No person shall operate, use or attempt to operate or use a vessel or commercial fishing gear for environmental tourism cruises authorized by this section unless the commissioner has issued an environmental tourism cruise permit for such vessel, including conditions for the use of such fishing gear, to the owner of the vessel. No person shall use or assist in using commercial fishing gear in any water of the state or land in this state any species taken by commercial fishing gear or for commercial purposes, regardless of where such species was taken, unless such person has been licensed by the Commissioner of Environmental Protection to use such commercial fishing gear or land such species; except that any person who holds a license to set or tend gill nets, a license to take lobsters or fish for personal use, a resident commercial fishing license, a nonresident commercial fishing license or a commercial landing license may be accompanied and assisted by persons not so licensed. A resident of a state which does not issue commercial licenses to take eels to residents of Connecticut shall not be eligible to obtain a commercial license to take eels in the waters of this state or to land eels in this state. No vessel shall be used to land any finfish, lobsters, crabs, including blue crabs and horseshoe crabs, sea scallops, squid or bait species for sale, barter, exchange, consignment or transportation to any point of sale unless an operator of the vessel is licensed for such purpose, except that any person who holds a commercial fishing license issued by the commissioner to fish by the method used to take such species, regardless of where such species were taken, shall not be required to obtain a landing license. No person shall take or attempt to take lobsters or horseshoe crabs for personal use by hand or by scuba diving or skin diving unless such person has been licensed by the commissioner to take lobsters or horseshoe crabs by such methods. No person shall take or attempt to take finfish for commercial purposes by the use of hook and line, including but not limited to rod and reel, hand line, set line, long line, or similar device unless such person has been licensed by the commissioner to use such gear for commercial purposes, except that notwithstanding the issuance of such a license, no person shall take finfish for commercial purposes in the inland district by the use of hook and line. The use of a purse seine or similar device to take species is prohibited. The commissioner may adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, to conserve the menhaden fishery and such regulations may provide for a moratorium on the taking of menhaden for any period of time that the commissioner deems necessary. No pound net shall be used to take finfish unless such pound net is registered with the commissioner. Lobsters and blue crabs taken in pound nets shall be released unharmed. No person shall buy for resale finfish, lobsters, crabs, including blue crabs and horseshoe crabs, sea scallops or squid [for resale] landed in Connecticut from any commercial fisherman unless such [person] buyer has been licensed by the commissioner. No person shall take or assist in taking blue crabs for commercial purposes except by scoop net, hand line or manually operated and personally attended devices approved by the commissioner and unless such person has been licensed by the commissioner. No person shall operate a charter boat, party boat or head boat for the purpose of fishing unless such boat has been registered for such purpose with the commissioner. The owner, operator or captain of any such boat may sell the boat's or crew's share of any catch if such sale is not prohibited on the basis of species, size or closed season. For the purposes of this chapter, a charter boat, party boat or head boat is a vessel carrying one or more crew members and which is operated for a fee for the purpose of transporting and providing a fishing platform for sport fishermen in the marine district. The commissioner may by regulations adopted in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54 exempt certain minnow seines, cast nets, scoop nets, traps, eel pots, seines less than thirty feet in length or any similar device used to take bait species and other species for personal use under a sport fishing license in the inland district and without a license in the marine district. No vessel used to take bait species may employ a fish pump. Persons licensed, registered or issued a permit to engage in activities authorized by this subsection shall carry on their persons or in the vessel being used to engage in such activity the permit, license or registration covering such activity.

(b) The commissioner shall issue fishing licenses, vessel permits and registrations to qualified applicants upon the submission of an application, on forms provided by the commissioner, containing such information as prescribed by the commissioner, and upon the payment of such license, registration or permit fees as are required by subsection (c) of this section, except that a nonresident whose permit, license or registration in [his] the state of residence has been voided or suspended shall have [his] the Connecticut permit, license or registration voided or suspended during the suspension of such out-of-state permit, license or registration or until another permit, license or registration is obtained in [his] the state of residence. The commissioner shall not issue any fishing license or registration or vessel permit to any applicant who has not met the reporting requirements of section 26-157b, as amended by this act. No vessel permit shall be issued to any person for any vessel during the time period that such vessel permit has been revoked pursuant to subsection (f) of this section. Any fishing license or registration or vessel permit issued by the commissioner shall be nontransferable and shall expire on the thirty-first day of December next following its issuance.

(c) The fee for the following fishing licenses and registrations and for a commercial fishing vessel permit shall be: (1) For a license to take blue crabs for commercial purposes, fifty dollars; (2) for a license to take lobsters for personal use, but not for sale, (A) by the use of not more than ten lobster pots, traps or similar devices provided finfish may be taken incidentally during such use if taken in accordance with recreational fishery creel limits adopted under section 26-159a and if taken for personal use and not for sale, or (B) by skin diving, scuba diving or by hand, fifty dollars; (3) for a license to take lobsters or crabs, other than blue crabs for personal use or for sale, by the use of more than ten lobster pots or similar devices, one hundred fifty dollars for residents of this state and two hundred twenty-five dollars for nonresidents, provided any such license issued to a resident of a state that does not issue commercial licenses conferring the same authority to take lobsters to residents of Connecticut shall be limited to the taking of crabs, other than blue crabs, and a nonresident shall not be issued such license if the laws of the nonresident's state concerning the taking of lobster are less restrictive than regulations adopted pursuant to section 26-157c; (4) for a license to take lobsters, crabs other than blue crabs, squid, sea scallops and finfish, for personal use or for sale, by the use of more than ten lobster pots or similar devices, or by the use of any otter trawl, balloon trawl, beam trawl, sea scallop dredge or similar device, one hundred fifty dollars for residents of this state and two hundred twenty-five dollars for nonresidents, provided any such license issued to residents of states which do not issue commercial licenses conferring the same authority to take lobsters to residents of Connecticut shall be limited to the taking of crabs other than blue crabs, squid, sea scallops and finfish by the use of any otter trawl, balloon trawl, beam trawl, sea scallop dredge or similar device, and a nonresident shall not be issued such license if the laws of [his] the state of residency concerning the taking of lobster are less restrictive than regulations adopted under the authority of section 26-157c; [(4)] (5) for a license to set, tend or assist in setting or tending gill nets, seines, scap or scoop nets used to take shad, one hundred dollars; [(5)] (6) for the registration of each pound net or similar device used to take finfish, one hundred dollars, provided persons setting, operating, tending or assisting in setting, operating or tending such pound nets shall not be required to be licensed; [(6)] (7) for a license to set or tend gill nets, to tend or assist in setting or tending seines, traps, fish pots, cast nets, fykes, scaps, scoops, eel pots or similar devices to take finfish other than shad or bait species for commercial purposes, or, in any waters seaward of the inland district demarcation line, to take finfish other than shad or bait species for commercial purposes by hook and line, or to take horseshoe crabs by hand, fifty dollars for residents of this state and [one] two hundred dollars for nonresidents, and any such license obtained for the taking of any fish species for commercial purposes by hook and line, [which species is regulated by a] in excess of any creel limit adopted under the authority of section 26-159a, one hundred dollars for residents of this state and [two] five hundred dollars for nonresidents, provided for the taking for bait of horseshoe crabs only, this license may be issued without regard to the limitations in section 26-142b, as amended by this act, to any holder of a Department of Agriculture conch license who held such license between January 1, 1995, and July 1, 2000, inclusive; [(7)] (8) for a license to set, tend or assist in setting, operating or tending seines, traps, scaps, scoops, weirs or similar devices to take bait species in the inland district for commercial purposes, twenty dollars; [(8)] (9) for a license to set, tend or assist in setting, operating or tending seines, traps, scaps, scoops or similar devices to take bait species in the marine district for commercial purposes, twenty dollars; [(9)] (10) for a license to buy finfish, lobsters, crabs, including blue crabs and horseshoe crabs, sea scallops, squid or bait species for resale from any commercial fisherman licensed to take or land such species for commercial purposes, regardless of where taken, twenty-five dollars; [(10)] (11) for the registration of any party boat, head boat or charter boat used for fishing, twenty-five dollars; [(11)] (12) for a license to land finfish, lobsters, crabs, including blue crabs and horseshoe crabs, sea scallops, squid or bait species, two hundred twenty-five dollars; [(12)] (13) for a commercial fishing vessel permit, fifty dollars; [(13)] (14) for a license to take menhaden from marine waters for personal use, but not for sale, by the use of a single gill net not more than sixty feet in length, fifty dollars; (15) for an environmental tourism cruise vessel permit, fifty dollars, provided the landing of any species regulated under Department of Environmental Protection regulations is prohibited.

(d) The commissioner may determine for all waters of the state, including the inland and marine districts, areas within which commercial fishing gear may be set or used, the specifications and dimensions of such commercial fishing gear, including materials, length, depth, width, and size of mesh, the length of set lines or long lines, the number and size of hooks, and, for all commercial fishing and landing activities by persons issued either a commercial fishing vessel permit or a license by the commissioner, regardless where such activities take place, the species which may be taken, possessed or landed, the seasons in which species may be taken, possessed or landed, the number and size of finfish, squid and crabs, including blue crabs, which may be taken, possessed or landed and the rules regulating the use of commercial fishing gear, including hours or days of use, and the number of licenses, permits or registrations which may be issued. The commissioner may also order the emergency closure of any fishery if such closure is necessary to conform to regulations adopted under the Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 (Public Law 94-265, as amended) or by other regional fisheries management authorities.

(e) The commissioner may, during and for any reasonable period of time prior to and after the spawning period of any inland or marine game fish or food fish, close any portion of any inland or marine water where any such fish congregate prior to or during the spawning season.

(f) The commissioner shall revoke any commercial fishing vessel permit issued under authority of subsection (b) upon conviction or upon the forfeiture of any bond taken upon any complaint, for the following offenses: (1) Possession of ten or more egg-bearing lobsters or lobsters from which the eggs have been removed; (2) possession of either: (A) Ten or more lobsters less than the minimum length if such lobsters constitute more than ten per cent of the lobsters on board; or (B) fifty lobsters which are less than the minimum length, whichever is the lesser amount; (3) possession of either: (A) Twenty or more finfish of at least one species which are less than the minimum length if such finfish constitute more than ten per cent of the finfish on board for that species; or (B) one hundred finfish of at least one species which are less than the minimum length, whichever is the lesser amount; (4) for a second offense within seven hundred and thirty days in violation of regulations relating to bottom trawl nets adopted under section 26-142a, as amended by this act; (5) for a second offense within seven hundred and thirty days for possession of finfish or lobsters more than ten per cent in excess of possession limits specified in regulations adopted under authority of section 26-157c or 26-159a. Said revocation period shall be for one hundred and eighty days for a first offense, one year for a second offense, two years for a third offense, and shall be permanent for a fourth offense. The provisions of this subsection are in addition to and in no way derogate from any other enforcement provision or penalty contained in any other statute.

(g) Any person who violates any provision of this part relating to commercial fishing vessel permits shall be fined no more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days or both, and each violation of any provision of this section relating to commercial fishing vessel permits shall constitute a separate offense.

(h) Notwithstanding the requirements of subsection (a) of this section, no commercial fishing vessel permit shall be required for any vessel used for the operation of an environmental tourism cruise, a charter, party or head boat or for a vessel used for taking of lobsters for personal use only, or a vessel used for taking inland or marine bait, blue crabs, or [a vessel used to take] American shad, or any vessel used in support of a vessel issued a commercial fishing vessel permit and engaged in the operation of a registered marine pound net.

Sec. 2. Section 26-142b of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, from May 31, 1995, until December 31, [2001] 2003, shall issue resident and nonresident commercial finfish licenses and commercial fishing licenses under section 26-142a only to persons who held such a license or registration at any time from January 1, 1980, to June 1, 1995, inclusive, provided, if such license holder is incapacitated or unable to operate a vessel, the commissioner may reissue a license to a member of such license holder's immediate family or to a member of such license holder's crew, as designated by such license holder, on a temporary basis not to exceed the duration of such incapacity or inability. Such temporary license shall be subject to the provisions of [said] section 26-142a, as amended by this act. Upon the death of a license holder or relinquishment of the license between October 1, 1999, and December 31, 2001, the commissioner, in accordance with the provisions of this section, may issue a new license of the same type to a member of such license holder's immediate family who shall be designated by such license holder on the form provided by the commissioner for application for, or renewal of, such license. Such form shall include a space in which the designation may be indicated. The commissioner shall allow transfers upon death or relinquishment only in cases of transfers from license holders who fished in 1998 and landed any amount of fish under a valid license issued by the commissioner and in the twelve months immediately preceding the date of the request. Such request shall be made to the commissioner in writing. In the case of relinquishment of license, the original license holder shall become ineligible to obtain a new or renewal license of said type but shall be allowed to recover the license upon the death of the recipient family member or the relinquishment of the license by the recipient. For the purposes of this section, active fishing shall be determined by inspection of commercial fishery catch data submitted in accordance with section 26-157b. No transfer of a license may be made while such license is under suspension. Immediate family shall include spouses, parents, children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or the spouses of any such family member. Such reissued license shall be subject to the provisions of [said] section 26-142a, as amended by this act. If such license holder has not designated a family member to whom the license may be issued, one such family member may apply in the manner otherwise provided by law in order to obtain a license under [said] section 26-142a, as amended by this act.

(b) Notwithstanding the requirements of this section, from May 26, 2000, until October 1, [2002] 2003, an active commercial fishing license for lobster issued pursuant to subsection (c) of section 26-142a, as amended by this act, may, upon notice to the commissioner, be transferred, without remuneration, to any person who has not had a commercial fishing license, registration or vessel permit suspended within the preceding twelve months or revoked, provided the person transferring the license held the license and landed lobsters in at least three calendar years between January 1, 1995, and [June 8, 1998] October 1, 2003, and reported such lobster catch to the commissioner pursuant to section 26-157b, as amended by this act. The person to whom such license is transferred shall be limited to the number of pots actively fished and reported during said period, except that a transferee who currently holds a commercial fishing license for lobster issued pursuant to subsection (c) of section 26-142a, as amended by this act, shall be limited to the number of pots actively fished and reported during said period under either the currently held license or the transferred license, whichever is greater.

(c) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, the commissioner may authorize the transfer of an active commercial fishing license for lobster provided the person transferring the license: (1) Does not meet the qualification for license transfer in subsection (b) of this section due to such person's own verified and substantiated medical circumstances; and (2) held the license, landed lobsters and reported such lobster catch to the commissioner pursuant to section 26-157b in at least one year during the period from January 1, 1995, to June 8, 1998, inclusive. The person to whom such license is transferred shall be limited to the number of pots actively fished and reported during said period by the person transferring the license.

Sec. 3. Subsection (a) of section 26-157b of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) Each person who engages in commercial fishing in the waters of this state, lands lobsters, sea scallops, finfish, crabs or squid for commercial purposes in this state regardless of where such species are taken, purchases finfish, lobsters, crabs, sea scallops, squid or bait species from commercial fishermen for resale or holds any commercial fishing license issued by the commissioner, license to take lobsters for personal use, license to take menhaden for personal use, license to buy finfish, lobsters, crabs, sea scallops, squid or bait species for resale, license to land lobsters, sea scallops, finfish, crabs, or squid or pound net registration shall report to the commissioner, at such intervals and at such times as may be required and upon forms provided by the commissioner, such information as the commissioner deems necessary. The commissioner may request that commercial shellfish harvesters of oysters and clams voluntarily report, upon forms provided by the commissioner, such information as the commissioner deems necessary. The information required to be reported or voluntarily submitted may include but is not limited to: The number of individuals employed by such person, the number and value of boats, nets, apparatus and other devices used, the area fished, the effort expended and the number, weight, market value and species of finfish, lobsters, oysters, clams, sea scallops, squid, or crabs caught, landed or purchased. Each person who holds a party boat, head boat or charter boat registration shall report to the commissioner, at such times and at such intervals as may be required and upon forms provided by the commissioner, such information as the commissioner deems necessary, which may include but is not limited to: The number of individuals carried for the purpose of fishing, the area fished, the effort expended, the number and weight by species of all finfish taken and, if any of the catch is sold by such person or by the captain or crew of such vessel, the number, weight, species and value of such finfish.

(b) Any person who violates any reporting requirement under subsection (a) of this section shall have committed an infraction and may pay the fine by mail or plead not guilty under the provisions of section 51-164n and shall not be subject to the provisions of section 26-61.

(c) Notwithstanding any provision of section 1-210 to the contrary, no person shall obtain, attempt to obtain or release to any person or government agency any identifiable individual record of or information derived from any report required to be submitted or voluntarily submitted in accordance with the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, or submitted voluntarily upon request of the commissioner, without the consent of the person making the report provided the commissioner may authorize the release of such information for the purposes of fisheries research, management and development and conservation law enforcement. Any person who violates any provision of this section shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days or both and each such violation shall constitute a separate offense.

Sec. 4. Section 23-33 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

The [State Forester] Commissioner of Environmental Protection shall be, ex officio, State Forest Fire Warden and shall receive no additional compensation therefor, but [his] necessary traveling and other expenses shall be paid by the state.

Sec. 5. Section 23-35 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

The State Forest Fire Warden [, under the direction and supervision of the Commissioner of Environmental Protection,] shall equip trained fire-fighting crews at major department field facilities and maintain them during periods when forest fires are most likely to occur. Such crews shall be prepared to respond to requests for assistance when a fire occurs on or endangers either state or private forest and timber land, or upon call from the United States Forest Service to assist them or any requesting state in the suppression of forest fires.

Sec. 6. Section 23-36 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

The State Forest Fire Warden may take such action as [he] said warden deems necessary to provide for the prevention and control of forest fires. [He] Said warden may enter into agreements with federal agencies, with cities, boroughs and fire districts and with forest protective associations for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this section. [He] Said warden shall divide the state into districts for the purpose of preventing and controlling forest fires and shall appoint within these districts such district fire wardens, not exceeding two hundred and fifty, as [he] said warden deems necessary, who shall serve for two years or until their successors are appointed. [ Said state warden] The State Forest Fire Warden shall have supervision of district fire wardens [,] and shall instruct them in their duties. [and shall cause violations of the laws regarding forest fires to be prosecuted.] Each district fire warden may, with the approval of the [state warden] State Forest Fire Warden, appoint deputies to assist [him] in extinguishing fires and to take charge of such extinguishing in [his] such district fire warden's absence, provided, in cities having paid fire departments and whose boundaries are coterminous with the town boundaries, the State Forest Fire Warden may appoint a district fire warden and may assume responsibility for forest fires only upon the written request of the mayor of such city and for such portions as may be designated by such mayor. Cities without paid fire departments and portions of towns outside of city limits shall be included in forest fire districts and the State Forest Fire Warden may employ volunteer fire companies under the conditions described in this section and sections 23-37 to 23-42, inclusive, as amended by this act. [but no compensation shall be paid to such volunteer fire companies under the provisions thereof except as herein provided.] The State Forest Fire Warden shall establish rates of compensation for equipment usage, fire fighting materials and supplies expended and firefighter and laborer time expended in extinguishing forest fires to be paid to such volunteer fire companies as may be employed. In establishing such rates, the State Forest Fire Warden may differentiate between various kinds of equipment and material and supplies used and the provisions of section 23-39, as amended by this act, shall apply to the establishment of rates of compensation for firefighter and laborer time. Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes or any municipal ordinance, upon the declaration by the Governor of the existence of a state of emergency due to forest fire, the State Forest Fire Warden may assume direct authority over efforts to extinguish any forest fire and may assign such authority to any state forest fire control personnel.

Sec. 7. Section 23-37 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) State forest fire control personnel and district and deputy fire wardens shall, under the supervision of the State Forest Fire Warden, use all necessary means to prevent and extinguish forest fires. [and enforce all statutes for the protection of forest and timber land from fire.]

(b) [They shall have] Such state forest fire control personnel shall assist the fire chief or the fire officer-in-charge in the control and direction of all persons and apparatus while engaged in extinguishing forest fires in their respective districts, or in other districts under the instructions of the State Forest Fire Warden.

(c) Such state forest fire control personnel and fire wardens may destroy fences, plow land or, in an emergency, close roads, with or without detours, and set backfires to hasten the control of any fire.

(d) [They] Such state forest fire control personnel may summon any resident of the state between the ages of eighteen and fifty years to assist in extinguishing fires, and may also require the use of [horses] equipment, motor vehicles and other property needed for such purposes. Any person so summoned, who is physically able, who refuses or neglects to assist or to allow the use of [horses, wagons] equipment, motor vehicles or other material or property, or wilfully interferes with or hinders any warden or other person having authority under this section, shall be fined not more than [one] two hundred dollars.

(e) No action for trespass shall lie against any person crossing or working upon lands of another to extinguish fire or for investigation thereof.

[(f) Any state forest fire control personnel or fire warden shall have the power to arrest any person for an alleged violation of the provisions of any statute for the protection of forest and timber land.]

Sec. 8. Section 23-37a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

Upon written request by any fire company which may be called upon to fight forest fires, the Commissioner of Environmental Protection shall provide such company, from reserves available to the commissioner, with forest fire-fighting equipment. Such company shall be responsible for the maintenance of such equipment. [, and said commissioner shall be responsible for its replacement.]

Sec. 9. Section 23-38 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

[The district fire wardens shall] State forest fire control personnel may post such notices relating to forest fires and the statutes concerning fires as the State Forest Fire Warden prepares, and any person who wilfully or maliciously tears down or destroys any such notice shall be fined ten dollars.

Sec. 10. Section 23-39 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

The compensation of district and deputy fire wardens, trained firefighters organized in accordance with rules issued by the State Forest Fire Warden and such laborers as said warden finds it necessary to employ shall be fixed by [him] said warden on an hourly basis, subject to the approval of the Commissioner of Administrative Services. Volunteer fire companies may be compensated in accordance with section 23-36 as amended by this act. The chief of the fire department in any town, city or borough who receives a regular salary shall be paid no additional compensation when acting as a fire warden. [Such] District fire wardens shall prepare their bills for services rendered by them and by the [men] personnel and automobiles and other apparatus employed or used by them in extinguishing fires. The chief of any volunteer fire company may prepare bills for services rendered by said company and by the personnel and automobiles and other apparatus employed or used by them in extinguishing forest fires, if said company is allowed by town ordinance to receive payment for such bills. Such bills shall be on a form prescribed by the State Forest Warden and shall be submitted to the State Forest Fire Warden within one month after the services have been rendered, and, if found correct and approved by [him] said warden, shall be ordered paid by the State Comptroller. A copy of each bill so paid on account of any fire within a city, as provided in section 23-36, as amended by this act, shall be sent by the State Forest Fire Warden to the city treasurer of the city in which the fire occurred, except bills for which a railroad company is liable under the provisions of section 23-42, as amended by this act, and, on or before the tenth day of December in each year, such city treasurer shall draw [his] the treasurer's order in favor of the State Treasurer for the full amount of such bills submitted during the twelve months next preceding. The State Forest Fire Warden may forgive such bills if the state would incur administrative costs in collecting the debt owed that would exceed the actual debt owed. Bills for expenses incurred or services rendered by district or deputy wardens in the performance of duties other than fire fighting shall be submitted to the State Forest Fire Warden on or before the tenth day of December and the tenth day of June in each year. [, and, if approved by said state warden, he shall add to the amount of each bill so incurred by district wardens the sum of ten dollars. Such bills shall then] Upon approval by the State Forest Fire Warden, such bills shall be ordered paid by the State Comptroller from any sums available for the expenses of the State Forest Fire Warden. All fire warden bills authorized by sections 23-37, as amended by this act, 23-38, as amended by this act, 23-40 to 23-42, inclusive, as amended by this act, and this section shall show in detail the amount and character of the services performed, the exact duration thereof and all disbursements made by such wardens.

Sec. 11. Section 23-40 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

The State Forest Fire Warden may appoint [patrolmen] patrol personnel, who shall receive compensation for the time actually employed, and may establish and equip fire lookout stations and furnish necessary equipment for such [patrolmen] patrol personnel. Any [patrolman] patrol personnel so appointed for such purpose shall have [the power to arrest any person for an alleged violation of any provision of the statutes for the protection of forest and timber land and shall also have] authority to summon assistance as provided in section 23-37, as amended by this act, and to render bills for such expenses as provided in section 23-39, as amended by this act.

Sec. 12. Section 23-42 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

Any railroad company which, through act of its employees or agents, by sparks from its locomotives or otherwise, sets fire to trees, brush or grass on lands outside the right-of-way of such company, shall be liable to the state for the lawful expenses incurred by [fire wardens] the State Forest Fire Warden in extinguishing such fire. The bill for any such fire shall be submitted by the warden or fire chief in charge to the State Forest Fire Warden. If approved by [him] the State Forest Fire Warden, it shall be ordered paid by the State Comptroller. A statement of all such bills paid by the state during the previous six months shall be submitted on or before the tenth day of December and the tenth day of June in each year by the State Forest Fire Warden to the railroad company liable under the provisions of this section. Such statement shall be accompanied by copies of all bills on which the claim is based and shall be paid by such railroad company to the State Treasurer. Each section [foreman] foreperson employed by a railroad company, upon the discovery of any fire in the section under [his] the jurisdiction of the foreperson, for which such company is liable under the provisions of this section, shall summon necessary assistance, proceed to the fire and extinguish it, and shall give such assistance to [the district fire warden] state forest fire control personnel as may, from time to time, be requested by such [warden] personnel.

Sec. 13. Section 23-44 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

As to any portion of any railroad right-of-way and contiguous land that may be found by the Commissioner of Transportation to constitute such a fire hazard, the commissioner, upon [his own] motion of said commissioner or at the request of the State Forest Fire Warden or of the owner or owners of any land adjoining such portion, shall have power, from time to time, to order the railroad company operating such railroad to furnish a patrol whose duty it shall be to cover such portion of the right-of-way and contiguous land in dry seasons and to extinguish any fires set by the locomotives of such railroad company. The commissioner may also, with the consent of any owner or owners of land bordering upon such right-of-way, require such railroad company to [plow a fire line] create a fire break meeting specifications established by the State Forest Fire Warden on the land of such owner or owners, such line [not to exceed ten feet in width and] to be located not more than two hundred feet from the nearest track of such railroad, or to clear the brush and inflammable material from a strip of land whose outer limit shall be not more than two hundred feet from such nearest track. The commissioner may also require each railroad company operating a railroad in this state, between the first day of September and the first day of December in each year, to cause to be cut and destroyed all dead grass and weeds on such portions of the right-of-way of such railroad company as have been found by said commissioner to constitute fire hazards amounting to public menace.

Sec. 14. Section 23-49a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) No person shall kindle or use fire in the open air within one hundred feet of woodland, brushland, or area containing dried grass that is adjacent to any woodland or brushland, when the forest fire danger, as declared by the State Forest Fire Warden, is high or extreme, or during a drought emergency as declared by the State Forest Fire Warden. When weather conditions indicate that such forest fire danger exists, the State Forest Fire Warden shall make public announcement of the fact, using such news media as may be available [to him,] and the provisions of this section shall then be in effect until cancelled by said [forest fire] warden.

(b) Notwithstanding any provision of subsection (a) of this section to the contrary, an owner of land or [his] an agent of such owner may apply to the State Forest Fire Warden or [the fire warden of the district in which such land is located or his deputy] designee of said warden for a special burning permit during such period of burning ban. If [such fire warden or his agent] the State Forest Fire Warden or designee is of the opinion that the proposed burning is of immediate necessity, will not be in conflict with local or state regulatory authority, and that the permittee has the necessary equipment and manpower to confine the fire, [such fire warden] the State Forest Fire Warden may issue a special burning permit stating the location, time and conditions under which such burning is to be effected.

(c) Any person who violates any of the provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall be fined not more than two hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than six months or both.

(d) Nothing contained in this section shall limit any duly authorized public authority from carrying out their assigned duties where the use of fire is necessary to the reduction of a health or fire hazard.

Sec. 15. (NEW) The Commissioner of Environmental Protection may provide outdoor recreation-related services to the public at state park and forest recreation areas. Such services may include rentals of bicycles, boats, cabins and tents, sale of firewood and operation of camp stores supplying camping necessaries. Fees for such services shall be set by the commissioner, according to market value. Revenue from such services shall be deposited in the conservation fund and credited to an enterprise program account for use in the state park and forest facilities. Such services and fees shall not affect admission, parking, camping and related existing fees. No services shall compete with a concessionaire under contract with the Department of Environmental Protection at the time such service is offered.

Sec. 16. (NEW) The Commissioner of Environmental Protection shall designate those trails in state parks or forests for use by persons traveling by horseback.

Sec. 17. (NEW) The Commissioner of Environmental Protection shall make recommendations and take appropriate actions for the control of nonnative invasive plant species; prepare information materials for distribution; conduct educational activities which address the effects of nonnative invasive plant species upon the state, and prepare and maintain a list of nonnative invasive plant species that will be distributed on an annual basis.

Sec. 18. Section 23-4 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

The Commissioner of Environmental Protection may adopt regulations in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54 for the maintenance of order, safety and sanitation upon the lands [in his] under the commissioner's control and for the protection of trees and other property and the preservation of the natural beauty thereof and fix penalties not exceeding a fine of ninety dollars for violation of such regulations. The commissioner may prohibit the possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages on such lands provided, for any such lands where the consumption or possession of alcoholic beverages was not prohibited by the commissioner as of October 1, 1999, the commissioner shall adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, to prohibit such activity. Such regulations shall be posted in conspicuous places upon such lands. Any person who violates any such regulation shall have committed an infraction and may pay the fine by mail or plead not guilty under the provisions of section 51-164n. The provisions of section 51-164m shall not apply to this section. Any person convicted of a violation of such regulations or who forfeits a bond taken upon any such complaint may be prohibited from entering any state park by the commissioner for not more than one year from the date of such conviction.

Sec. 19. Section 23-48 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

Any person who kindles or directs another to kindle a fire in the open air, without proper authorization from state or local authorities [, which fire causes an injury to the person or damage to the property of another] or any person who burns materials that are prohibited from being burned by any provision of the general statutes, regulation of the state or local ordinance, shall be fined not more than two hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than six months or both.

Sec. 20. Sections 23-34 and 23-51 of the general statutes are repealed.

Approved July 6, 2001