UPDATE ON NC LEGISLATION AFFECTING URBAN FORESTRY
(April 15, 2021)
As a member organization of the NC Green Industry Council (GIC), the NC Urban Forest Council has access to legislative committee updates and has inclusion in discussions when bills are being introduced to NC Legislature that could impact the urban forest statewide. A few recent bills may be of interest to our membership, which we have summarized below:
· Senate Bill 436: (https://openstates.org/nc/bills/2021/SB436/): Local Tree Ordinances Authorized. This bill was introduced to NC Legislature at the end of March by Senators Mayfield and Woodard and it gives the rights to municipalities to develop and pass tree protection standards and tree replacement standards.
· House Bill 496 (https://www.ncleg.gov/BillLookUp/2021/H496): Property Owners’ Right/Tree Ordinances. This bill was introduced on April 5th by Representative Boles. The purpose of this bill is to require local government to get legislative authority prior to developing tree protection regulation that impacts private property. It also states that any tree ordinance regulating tree removal on private property, but doesn’t have legislative authority, would be repealed.
· House Bill 431: (https://www.ncleg.gov/BillLookUp/2021/H431): Funds for Soil/Water Conservation Programs. This bill is sponsored by Representative McNeely and is to establish and fund the Streamflow Rehabilitation Assistance Program. It is mainly for debris clean-up from flooding and storm impact, but it is for stream restoration and could lead to project that incorporate trees and vegetation as part of the restoration process and infrastructure repair.
· NC Healthy Soils & Watershed Program Act: This bill is in draft form, but it is getting ready to be introduced to legislature. Recognizing that healthy soil and water are cornerstones of a high quality of life on earth, the purpose of this bill is to establish a Program for preserving and protecting the public interests in the soil and water resources of this state. Soil and water are integral to supporting agricultural viability, promoting positive environmental outcomes including a more stable climate, ensuring the long-term availability of nutritious food, and conserving biodiversity. The bill would appropriate funds to the Department of Agriculture to run the program and work with the NC Soil and Water Conservation Commission to improve the health of our soils and watershed in North Carolina.
· Compost Procurement Act: This bill is in draft form, but it is getting ready to be introduced to legislature. The bill recognizes the importance of diverting organics from the landfill to composting manufacturing, as well as encourages local governments to include compost into soil amendment specifications for projects.
We will continue to update you on these proposed bills as they move through legislature. Please feel free to contact your local senator or representative with your concerns about any of the bills in this update. Find your Legislator (https://www.ncleg.gov/FindYourLegislators)