18-01: Reinstating 310 Administration Program Funding

WHEREAS, the Montana legislature enacted an important environmental law protecting Montana’s streams and rivers, entitled the Natural Streambed and Land Preservation Act of 1975, commonly referred to as the 310 law; and

WHEREAS, legislature delegated the responsibility for its administration to conservation districts without a dedicated funding source; and

WHEREAS, conservation districts process between 950 to 2,000 permit applications per year statewide; and

WHEREAS, in the late 1990’s the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation established the 310 administration grant program to reimburse conservation districts for the 310 applications processed to offset the administrative expenses of the 310 program; and

WHEREAS, the $100,000 program reimbursed conservation districts for the number of applications processed each year which varied from $50 per application to $91 per application; and

WHEREAS, conservation districts have relied on this program to help pay for basic services related to 310 law administration such as salaries, team inspection expenses, mileage, operational expenses, information and outreach, and technical assistance; and

WHEREAS, the funding was cut for the 310 administration program due to budget reductions; and

WHEREAS, conservation districts receive better compliance and can better meet the constitutional protections required by the 310 law by continuing to keep the process affordable to Montana’s citizens by not charging fees.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: that Montana Association of Conservation Districts (MACD) be directed to coordinate possible solutions to reinstate funding the 310 permit application process that is vital to many conservation districts within Montana to serve the public as mandated by law.