Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same,
SECTION 1. Section 1 of chapter 131 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 1988 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after the definition of "Marine fisheries" the following definition:-
"Nature preserve", an area of land that: retains or has recovered to a substantial degree its natural or primeval character; provided, however, that it need not be completely undisturbed; has native floral, faunal or ecological features of scientific or educational interest; or is necessary for the protection of land so described.
SECTION 2. Said chapter 131, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting after section 10 the following four sections:-
Section 10A. The executive office of environmental affairs, the department or any other division of the department within said executive office may designate as qualifying as a nature preserve any real property owned by the commonwealth and under the care and control of said department, executive office or any of its divisions or departments. Such a parcel of real property shall be deemed to be a nature preserve upon the following:
The division shall after a determination that said parcel qualifies as a nature preserve hold a public hearing thereon in accordance with the provisions of chapter thirty A.
The division shall file with the secretary of the executive office of environmental affairs a statement dedicating said parcel as a nature preserve. Such statement shall include the reasons said parcel qualifies as a nature preserve and a plan for the preservation and protection of said parcel as a nature preserve.
A nature preserve established in accordance with the provisions of this section shall be monitored and maintained as nearly as possible in its natural condition, and shall be used in a manner and under limitations consistent with its status as a nature preserve, without impairment or artificial development for the public purposes of present or future scientific research and education, and of providing a habitat for plant and animal species, communities and other natural objects and for preservation of areas representative of the significant habitats and ecosystems of the commonwealth.
Section 10B. A nature preserve council, hereinafter referred to as the council, shall be established and shall consist of seven members who shall be appointed by the secretary of the executive office of environmental affairs, four of whom shall be members of the nongame advisory committee, appointed pursuant to section five B, two of whom shall be trained in plant ecology and shall represent colleges, universities, outdoor education programs, primary and secondary schools, science museums, and arboreta, and one of whom shall be knowledgeable in natural history and shall represent the general public. The members of the council shall be reimbursed for their necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties. Each member shall be appointed for a term of three years, except that for the initial term, three members shall be appointed for one year, two members shall be appointed for two years and two members shall be appointed for three years. Any person appointed to fill a vacancy shall serve for the unexpired term. Any member shall be eligible for reappointment.
The council shall annually select from among its members a chairman. The council shall hold meetings at least quarterly. Special meetings may be called by the chairman and shall be called by him upon written request of at least two members of the council. A written notice of the time and place of each meeting shall be sent to each member.
The council's duties shall include advising the division on policies and rules and regulations concerning nature preserves, consulting with the division regarding the nomination of potential nature preserves, assisting in the preparation of a plan for each nature preserve, and advising the division on budgetary matters related to such nature preserves. The council shall submit a biennial report to the governor on or before May first of such year, describing the condition of each nature preserve, outlining any actions taken by the council since the last report, and making any recommendations related to the nature preserve program which the council deems necessary.
Section 10C. A nature preserve established pursuant to section ten A shall be released in a manner consistent with the provisions of the constitution of the commonwealth. The division shall, in consultation with any other department or division within the executive office of environmental affairs which has control of said parcel, consider the public interest in the conservation and preservation of such nature preserve and any federal, state or local program in furtherance thereof, any state, regional or local comprehensive land use or development plan affecting said parcel, and any proposal by a governmental body for the use of said parcel.
The provisions of this section shall not be deemed to affect in any manner any power pursuant to any general or special law to acquire by purchase, eminent domain or otherwise any real property for public purposes.
Section 10D. The division shall consult with the nature preserve council in implementing and effectuating the nature preserve program established pursuant to sections ten A to ten C, inclusive. The division shall promulgate rules and regulations to effectuate said nature preserve program.
SECTION 3. The initial report required to be filed with the governor by the nature preserve council pursuant to the provisions of section ten B of chapter one hundred and thirty-one of the General Laws shall be filed on or before May first, nineteen hundred and ninety.