TITLE 2
Agriculture and Forestry

CHAPTER 2-4
Soil Conservation

SECTION 2-4-6


§ 2-4-6 Powers and duties of committee.

In addition to the duties and powers conferred upon the committee, it has the following duties and powers:

(1) To offer any assistance as may be appropriate to the directors of conservation districts, organized as provided in this chapter, in the carrying out of any of their powers and programs; to assist and guide districts in the preparation and carrying out of programs for resources conservation authorized under this chapter; to review district programs; to coordinate the programs of the conservation districts and resolve any conflicts in those programs.

(2) To keep the directors of each of the conservation districts organized under this chapter informed of the activities and experience of all other districts organized under this chapter, and to facilitate an interchange of advice and experience between the districts and cooperation between them.

(3) To approve forms of agreements, proposed to be entered into by districts, with other districts or with any state, federal, interstate, or other public or private agency, organization, or individual, and advise the districts concerning the forms of agreements.

(4) To secure the cooperation and assistance of the United States and any of its agencies, and of agencies of this state, in the work of the districts.

(5) To enlist the cooperation and collaboration of state, federal, regional, interstate and local public and private agencies with the conservation districts; and to facilitate arrangements under which the conservation districts may serve city or town governing bodies and other agencies as their local operating agencies in the administration of any activity concerned with the conservation of renewable natural resources.

(6) To disseminate information throughout the state concerning the activities and programs of the conservation districts organized under this chapter, to make available information concerning the needs and the work of the conservation districts and the committee to the governor, the legislature, executive agencies of the government of this state, political subdivisions of this state, cooperating federal agencies, and the general public.

(7) Pursuant to procedures developed mutually by the committee and other federal, state and local agencies that are authorized to plan or administer activities significantly affecting the conservation of renewable natural resources, to receive from those agencies for review and comment suitable descriptions of their plans, programs and activities for the purposes of coordination with district conservation programs; to arrange for and participate in conferences necessary to avoid conflict among those plans and programs, to call attention to omissions, and to avoid duplications of effort.

(8) Whenever the committee determines that there exists a substantial conflict between the resources conservation program of a district and the proposed plans or activities directly affecting resource conservation prepared by any other local governmental unit or agency of the federal government, or this state, and that the conflict cannot be resolved through the consultation procedures provided for in this section, the committee shall submit a report of the conflict through the department of environmental management to the governor.

(9) To compile information and make studies, summaries, and analyses of natural resource conditions in cooperation with local conservation districts and conservation programs on a statewide basis.

(10) Except as otherwise assigned by state law, to carry out and coordinate the policies of this state in programs at the state level for the conservation of the renewable natural resources of this state and to represent the state in matters affecting those resources. This includes the formulation and development of state guidelines, as deemed necessary, for the conservation of soil, water and related natural resources of the state. When developing these guidelines the committee, working with the conservation districts, may secure the assistance of state and federal agencies and Rhode Island schools of higher learning to make such investigations and studies as are necessary.

(11) To offer technical assistance to the department of environmental management and/or other state agencies in the development of recommendations for the general assembly of any natural resource legislation deemed necessary for the conservation, preservation, protection and development of the renewable natural resources of this state. This legislation may include, but is not necessarily limited to, provision for erosion and sediment control, flood plain regulation and the conservation of watershed resources.

(12) To assist conservation districts in obtaining legal services from the attorney general.

(13) To require annual reports from conservation districts, the form and content of which shall be developed by the committee.

(14) To establish by regulations, with the assistance and advice of the appropriate state fiscal officers, adequate and reasonably uniform accounting and auditing procedures which shall be used by conservation districts, and when the situation requires on a vote of at least four (4) members, to impound all district funds and assets subject to ratification at a hearing on the action in accordance with the administrative procedures act, chapter 35 of title 42.

(15) To approve and issue within ninety (90) days after the end of each fiscal year a detailed annual report to the governor, the speaker of the house of representatives, the president of the senate, and the secretary of state of its activities for the preceding year. The report shall provide a review and synopsis of the state conservation district activities; an operating statement summarizing meetings or hearings held, including meeting minutes, subjects addressed, decisions rendered, studies conducted, policies and plans developed, approved, or modified, and programs administered or initiated; a summary of the work of the farm, forest and open space subcommittee including the list of current values for farm, forest and open space; a consolidated financial statement of all funds received and expended including the source of the funds, a listing of any staff supported by these funds, and a summary of any clerical, administrative or technical support received; a summary of performance during the previous fiscal year including accomplishments, shortcomings and remedies; a synopsis of any legal matters related to the authority of the council; a summary of any training courses held pursuant to subsection 2-4-6(18); a briefing on anticipated activities in the upcoming fiscal year; and findings and recommendations for improvements. The report shall be posted electronically as prescribed in § 42-20-8.2. The director of the department of administration shall be responsible for the enforcement of this provision.

(16) To establish by regulation the procedure for removing a district director from office either for excessive absence or for other cause. The procedure shall include a hearing before the committee at which time the affected director may seek to rebut the charges.

(17) To have supervision and control of any funds appropriated by the general assembly to finance the activities of the committee and the conservation districts; to administer the provisions of any act enacted by the legislature appropriating funds for expenditure in connection with the activities of conservation districts; to distribute to conservation districts funds, equipment, supplies and services received by the committee for that purpose from any source, subject to the conditions that shall be made applicable thereto in any state or federal statute or local ordinance making available those funds, property or services; to issue regulations establishing suitable controls to govern the use by conservation districts of those funds, property and services; approve all budgets, administrative procedures and operations of those districts to ensure that districts conform with applicable laws and regulations.

(18) To conduct a training course for newly appointed and qualified members and new designees of ex officio members within six (6) months of their qualification or designation. The course shall be developed by the chair of the committee, approved by the committee, and conducted by the chair of the committee. The committee may approve the use of any committee or staff members or other individuals to assist with training. The course shall include instruction in the following areas: the provisions of chapters 2-4, 42-46, 36-14 and 38-2; and the committee's rules and regulations. The director of administration shall, within ninety (90) days of the effective date of this act [April 20, 2006], prepare and disseminate training materials relating to the provisions of chapters 42-46, 36-14 and 38-2.

History of Section.
(G.L. 1956, § 2-4-6; P.L. 1972, ch. 173, § 2; P.L. 1979, ch. 353, § 1; P.L. 1985, ch. 179, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 22, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 27, § 1.)