(1) SHORT TITLE.—This section may be cited as the “Babcock Ranch Preserve Act.”
(2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term: (a) “Babcock Ranch Preserve” and “preserve” mean the lands and facilities acquired in the purchase of the Babcock Crescent B Ranch, as provided in s. 259.1052.
(b) “Commission” means the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
(c) “Commissioner” means the Commissioner of Agriculture.
(d) “Department” means the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
(e) “Executive director” means the Executive Director of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
(f) “Financially self-sustaining” means having management and operation expenditures not more than the revenues collected from fees and other receipts for resource use and development and from interest and invested funds.
(g) “Florida Forest Service” means the Florida Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
(h) “Multiple use” means the management of all of the renewable surface resources of the Babcock Ranch Preserve to best meet the needs of the public, including the use of the land for some or all of the renewable surface resources or related services over areas large enough to allow for periodic adjustments in use to conform to the changing needs and conditions of the preserve while recognizing that a portion of the land will be used for some of the renewable surface resources available on that land. The goal of multiple use is the harmonious and coordinated management of the renewable surface resources without impairing the productivity of the land and considering the relative value of the renewable surface resources, and not necessarily a combination of uses to provide the greatest monetary return or the greatest unit output.
(i) “Sustained yield of the renewable surface resources” means the achievement and maintenance of a high level of annual or regular periodic output of the various renewable surface resources of the preserve without impairing the productivity of the land.
(3) CREATION OF BABCOCK RANCH PRESERVE.—
(a) Upon the date of acquisition of the Babcock Crescent B Ranch, there is created the Babcock Ranch Preserve, which shall be managed in accordance with the purposes and requirements of this section.
(b) The preserve is established to protect and preserve the environmental, agricultural, scientific, scenic, geologic, watershed, fish, wildlife, historic, cultural, and recreational values of the preserve, and to provide for the multiple use and sustained yield of the renewable surface resources within the preserve consistent with this section.
(c) This section does not preclude the use of common varieties of mineral materials such as sand, stone, and gravel for construction and maintenance of roads and facilities within the preserve.
(d) This section does not affect the constitutional responsibilities of the commission in the exercise of its regulatory and executive power with respect to wild animal life and freshwater aquatic life, including the regulation of hunting, fishing, and trapping within the preserve.
(e) This section does not interfere with or prevent the implementation of agricultural practices authorized by the agricultural land use designations established in the local comprehensive plans of either Charlotte County or Lee County as those plans apply to the Babcock Ranch Preserve.
(f) This section does not preclude the maintenance and use of roads and trails or the relocation of roads in existence on the effective date of this section, or the construction, maintenance, and use of new trails, or any motorized access necessary for the administration of the land contained within the preserve, including motorized access necessary for emergencies involving the health or safety of persons within the preserve.
(4) BABCOCK RANCH ADVISORY GROUP.—
(a) The purpose of the Babcock Ranch Advisory Group is to assist the department by providing guidance and advice concerning the management and stewardship of the Babcock Ranch Preserve.
(b) The Babcock Ranch Advisory Group shall be comprised of nine members appointed to 5-year terms. Based on recommendations from the Governor and Cabinet, the commission, and the governing boards of Charlotte County and Lee County, the commissioner shall appoint members as follows:
1. One member with experience in sustainable management of forest lands for commodity purposes.
2. One member with experience in financial management, budget and program analysis, and small business operations.
3. One member with experience in management of game and nongame wildlife and fish populations, including hunting, fishing, and other recreational activities.
4. One member with experience in domesticated livestock management, production, and marketing, including range management and livestock business management.
5. One member with experience in agriculture operations or forestry management.
6. One member with experience in hunting, fishing, nongame species management, or wildlife habitat management, restoration, and conservation.
7. One member with experience in public outreach and education.
8. One member who is a resident of Lee County, to be designated by the Board of County Commissioners of Lee County.
9. One member who is a resident of Charlotte County, to be designated by the Board of County Commissioners of Charlotte County.
Vacancies will be filled in the same manner in which the original appointment was made. A member appointed to fill a vacancy shall serve for the remainder of that term.
(c) Members of the Babcock Ranch Advisory Group shall:
1. Elect a chair and vice chair from among the group members.
2. Meet regularly as determined by the chair.
3. Serve without compensation but shall receive reimbursement for travel and per diem expenses as provided in s. 112.061. (5) MANAGEMENT OF PRESERVE; FEES.—
(a) The department shall assume all authority provided by this section to manage and operate the preserve as a working ranch upon the termination or expiration of the management agreement attached as Exhibit “E” to that certain agreement for sale and purchase approved by the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund on November 22, 2005, and by Lee County on November 20, 2005.
(b) Upon assuming management and operation of the preserve, the department shall:
1. Manage and operate the preserve and the uses thereof, including, but not limited to, the activities necessary to administer and operate the preserve as a working ranch; the activities necessary for the preservation and development of the land and renewable surface resources of the preserve; the activities necessary for interpretation of the history of the preserve on behalf of the public; the activities necessary for the management, public use, and occupancy of facilities and lands within the preserve; and the maintenance, rehabilitation, repair, and improvement of property within the preserve.
2. Develop programs and activities relating to the management of the preserve as a working ranch.
3. Establish procedures for entering into lease agreements and other agreements for the use and occupancy of the facilities of the preserve. The procedures shall ensure reasonable competition and set guidelines for determining reasonable fees, terms, and conditions for such agreements.
4. Assess reasonable fees for admission to, use of, and occupancy of the preserve to offset costs of operating the preserve as a working ranch. These fees are independent of fees assessed by the commission for the privilege of hunting, fishing, or pursuing outdoor recreational activities within the preserve, and shall be deposited into the Incidental Trust Fund of the Florida Forest Service, subject to appropriation by the Legislature.
(c) The commission, in cooperation with the department, shall:
1. Establish and implement public hunting and other fish and wildlife management activities. Tier I and Tier II public hunting opportunities shall be provided consistent with the management plan and the recreation master plan. Tier I public hunting shall provide hunting opportunities similar to those offered on wildlife management areas with an emphasis on youth and family-oriented hunts. Tier II public hunting shall be provided specifically by fee-based permitting to ensure compatibility with livestock grazing and other essential agricultural operations on the preserve.
2. Establish and administer permit fees for Tier II public hunting to capitalize on the value of hunting on portions of the preserve and to help ensure the preserve is financially self-sufficient. The fees shall be deposited into the State Game Trust Fund of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to be used to offset the costs of providing public hunting and to support fish and wildlife management and other land management activities on the preserve.
(d) The Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund or its designated agent may:
1. Negotiate directly with and enter into such agreements, leases, contracts, and other arrangements with any person, firm, association, organization, corporation, or governmental entity, including entities of federal, state, and local governments, as are necessary and appropriate to carry out the purposes and activities authorized by this section.
2. Grant privileges, leases, concessions, and permits for the use of land for the accommodation of visitors to the preserve, provided no natural curiosities or objects of interest shall be granted, leased, or rented on such terms as shall deny or interfere with free access to them by the public. Such grants, leases, and permits may be made and given without advertisement or securing competitive bids. Such grants, leases, or permits may not be assigned or transferred by any grantee without consent of the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund or its designated agent.
(6) DISSOLUTION OF BABCOCK RANCH, INC.—Upon dissolution of the Babcock Ranch, Inc., all statutory powers, duties, functions, records, personnel, property, and unexpended balances of appropriations, allocations, and other funds of the corporation shall be transferred to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services unless otherwise provided by law. Any cash balances of funds shall revert to the Incidental Trust Fund of the Florida Forest Service.