POLICY, DEFINITIONS, AND ADMINISTRATION
227-G:1 Declaration of Purpose.
It is hereby recognized and declared that the public welfare of this state requires the maintenance, protection, conservation, multiple use, and rehabilitation of forests for the social, economic, and environmental benefits that result from a diverse forest cover. Such benefits include forest products, a viable forest-based economy, recreation opportunities, scenic values, healthful surroundings, climate mitigation, clean water, and biologically diverse populations of plants and animals. It is further recognized that long-term sustainability of the state's forests will require: the prudent acquisition and management of state-owned forests; data collection, planning, and education; protection of critical resources; monitoring and protection of forest health; and control of woodland fires.
Source. 1995, 299:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1996.
In this title:
I. "Basal area" means the cross sectional area of a tree measured at a height of 41/2 feet above the ground, usually expressed in square feet per acre for a stand of trees.
II. "Commissioner" means the commissioner of the department of natural and cultural resources.
III. "Department" means the department of natural and cultural resources.
IV. "Director" means the director of the division of forests and lands, department of natural and cultural resources, also known as the state forester.
V. "Division" means the division of forests and lands, department of natural and cultural resources.
VI. "Forest benefits" include, but are not limited to, forest products, a viable forest-based economy, recreation opportunities, scenic values, healthful surroundings, climate mitigation, clean water, and biologically diverse populations of plants and animals.
VII. "Forest fire district" means a geographical area of responsibility for a forest ranger of the department of natural and cultural resources, division of forests and lands.
VIII. "Forestland" means all lands in this state, except those owned and managed by the United States of America, which by reason of their location and character of soil have the capacity to grow trees and the continuance of which under forest cover is of substantial importance to the public interest.
IX. "Forest management" means the application of scientific and economic principles to conserve forest resources and obtain forest benefits.
X. "Forest resources" include, but are not limited to, soil, air, and water and the full range of plants, animals, and other organisms.
XI. "Forestry" means the science of silviculture and the practice and art of managing and using for human benefit forestlands and the natural resources that occur in association with forestlands, including trees, other plants, animals, soil, water, and related air and climate.
XII. "Fourth order streams" means those streams on a list maintained by the office of planning and development, as of the effective date of this section, using the Strahler method whereby the highest year-round streams in a watershed are first order streams, their juncture yields second order streams, the juncture of second order streams yields third order streams, and the juncture of third order streams yields fourth order.
XII-a. "Market value" means stumpage value as determined in the same manner as other property values for the purposes of taxation at the time the timber is cut.
XIII. "Primary forest product" means any portion of a tree, after felling, which will be processed into a secondary forest product, or will be utilized in its primary form.
XIV. "Primary wood processing mill" means any permanent or portable mill, or any off-site log yard operated by a primary wood processing mill, wherever located, sawing or otherwise processing logs, bolts, pulpwood, or other primary forest products into secondary forest products.
XV. "Quarantine" means a legal restriction duly imposed or enacted as a means for preventing or delaying the spread of a forest pest.
XVI. "Reservation" means public land under the jurisdiction of the department including, but not limited to: state forest, state park, natural area, historic site, geological site, recreation trail, memorial area, fire tower, wayside area, heritage park, resource center, agricultural area, state forest nursery, fish pier, administrative facility, information center, demonstration forest, certain islands, and lands under lease to the department.
XVII. "Special purpose" means the management of reservations and state-owned forestlands which have been excluded from forest management due to environmental, public safety, or other reasons unique to the reservation or state-owned forestland as determined by the agency responsible for the reservation or state-owned forestland.
XVIII. "Wood concentration yard" means any site established and used for the purchase and resale of primary forest products from off-site locations and which is not a primary wood processing mill. Any site used primarily to process or store bark mulch shall not be a wood concentration yard.
XIX. "Woodland" includes cut-over land, slash, and such other land as bears a sufficient amount of wood growth, wood, weeds, grass, or other growth as to be likely to be burned.
Source. 1995, 299:1. 2003, 319:9. 2004, 257:44. 2007, 88:1, eff. Aug. 10, 2007. 2017, 156:14, I, 64, eff. July 1, 2017; 164:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2018. 2021, 91:198, eff. July 1, 2021.
227-G:3 Duties and Authority of the Director of the Division of Forests and Lands.
I. The director shall:
(a) Execute all matters pertaining to forestry, forest management, and forestlands within the jurisdiction of the state, including cooperation with other state and federal agencies, with the approval of governor and council as required.
(b) Be responsible for the forest management of all reservations and state-owned forestlands except those areas managed for special purposes. The director shall consult with the directors of all agencies responsible for such areas in regard to forest management.
(c) Execute all matters pertaining to the use of state reservations, except matters pertaining to the recreational development, administration, and maintenance, which shall be done in cooperation with the director of the division of parks and recreation, department of natural and cultural resources, with the approval of governor and council as required.
(d) Gather information on the state's forest resources and plan for the multiple use and perpetuation of those resources.
(e) Enforce provisions on timber harvesting in RSA 227-J.
(f) Be responsible for overall forest health monitoring, reporting, and protection.
(g) Be responsible for the overall prevention and control of woodland fires throughout the state except within the boundaries of the White Mountain National Forest.
(h) Administer the funds in RSA 227-G:5.
(i) Prepare biennially a report to the governor on the activities and plans of the division. Such report shall contain an itemized statement of all expenses incurred or authorized by the director or by the commissioner.
(j) Carry out such other duties relating to forests, forest management, and forestlands as may be delegated by the commissioner lying within the jurisdiction of the department.
II. The director may:
(a) Within the limits of appropriations, hire such field and office assistants as, in the judgment of the commissioner, are necessary for the proper execution of the director's duties.
(b) With the consent of the commissioner secure the assistance of experts and pay such experts' expenses, as necessary for the proper execution of their duties.
(c) Upon terms approved by the commissioner, enter into cooperative agreements with departments of the federal government and other public and private agencies and organizations for the promotion of forestry within the state.
(d) Conduct investigations within the state on forestry matters and publish for distribution literature of scientific or general interest pertaining to forestry.
(e) Call training sessions of division employees, representatives of cooperating public and private agencies and organizations, town forestry officials, interested citizens, and others.
(f) With the approval of the commissioner or the commissioner's agents, impose administrative fines as provided in RSA 227-J:14, and RSA 227-L:2, V.
III. All duties and authorities assigned to the director under this title shall be performed under the supervision of the commissioner.
Source. 1995, 299:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1996. 2017, 156:14, I, eff. July 1, 2017.
The commissioner shall adopt rules, under RSA 541-A, relative to:
I. The management of reservations, pursuant to RSA 227-H.
II. Registration of primary wood processing mills, and regulation of mill sites.
III. The cutting of timber near certain waters and public highways, pursuant to RSA 227-J:9.
IV. The preparation and issuance of a standard request form to exceed the cutting limits near certain waters and public highways and the criteria for evaluating such a request pursuant to RSA 227-J:9, V.
V. Imposition of administrative fines pursuant to RSA 227-J:14.
VI. The regulation and permitting of floating timber, pursuant to RSA 485-B.
VII. The definition of buying and selling of forest products in relation to deceptive forestry business practices pursuant to RSA 227-J:15.
VIII. The designation of control areas for forest insect and disease infestations and rights of appeal pursuant to RSA 227-K.
VIII-a. Quarantine measures that may be taken when forest pests are found in any geographic area pursuant to RSA 227-K.
VIII-b. The issuing of orders and permits pursuant to RSA 227-K:15.
IX. The preparation and issuance of burning permits, and the kindling of camp or cooking fires, pursuant to RSA 227-L:17.
X. Emergency rules during high forest fire danger periods.
X-a. The requirements for enhanced penalties pursuant to RSA 227-G:10.
XI. Any other rules specifically authorized under the provisions of this title.
Source. 1995, 299:1. 2007, 88:2. 2010, 171:2, eff. Jan. 1, 2011.
227-G:5 Forest Funds.
I. Forest management and protection fund.
(a) There is hereby established a forest management and protection fund. This fund shall be used for the following:
(1) Managing state-owned forestlands.
(2) Monitoring of forest health and protection of state and private forestlands from disease and insect infestations.
(3) Enforcing the laws relating to the harvesting of timber.
(b) The forest management and protection fund shall be a nonlapsing fund administered by the treasurer of the state of New Hampshire. The fund shall be expended at the discretion of the director of the division and the commissioner. Any funds in excess of that appropriated from the fund may be expended by the commissioner, with prior approval of the fiscal committee pursuant to RSA 9:16-a and governor and council, in accordance with RSA 227-G:5, I(a). Revenues shall be derived from the proceeds of the sale of timber and other forest products from state-owned forestlands, less 13 percent which shall be deposited into the general fund. Revenues shall also be derived from the lease of state-owned forestlands, or billable services provided by the division of forests and lands, if the revenues are not dedicated to any other purpose. Revenues for the fund shall also be derived from administrative fines collected pursuant to RSA 227-J:1.
II. Forest improvement fund.
(a) All revenue derived from rentals and sales of forest products from federal lands placed under the jurisdiction of the department shall be kept by the state treasurer in a separate account as a continuous fund to be known as the forest improvement fund from which the expenses of forest management and silvicultural operations on these federal lands may be paid. Such funds may be used interchangeably between the various federal lands under the jurisdiction of the department, with the approval of the concerned federal agency or agencies.
(b) All revenues derived from the sale of state lands and buildings under the jurisdiction of the department shall be kept by the state treasurer in a separate account as a continuous fund within the forest improvement fund from which payment shall be made by the department for the purchase and improvement of areas suitable for state reservations.
(c) At the close of each fiscal year the unexpended balance of moneys in the forest improvement fund shall not lapse but shall be carried forward and be made available for use in subsequent years for such purposes.
III. Forest protection personnel training fund. The court or justice of any court in which a complaint for a violation of any law or rule relating to this title and other laws pertaining to the protection and improvement of forestlands is prosecuted shall, within 30 days after any fine or forfeiture is paid, remit the amount of such fine or forfeiture to the commissioner, provided, however, that from each fine collected by a municipal or district court, there shall be deducted $10 and 20 percent of that part of the fine that exceeds $10 and the same shall be dispensed of as provided for in RSA 502:14 or 502-A:8. The portion of the fine or forfeiture returned to the commissioner shall be placed in an account to be known as the forest protection personnel training fund which shall be continually appropriated to the division for the purpose of training forest protection personnel. All administrative fines collected under RSA 227-L:2, V shall be deposited into this fund.
Source. 1995, 299:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1996. 2015, 276:25, eff. July 1, 2015. 2017, 156:236, eff. July 1, 2017. 2019, 346:87, eff. July 1, 2019.
I. The commissioner shall recommend a uniform fine schedule for any forestry law violation, which shall be submitted to the supreme court for its use under RSA 502-A:19-b, V.
II. Any person charged with a violation of any provision of title XIX-A, excluding any offense for which the penalty is a misdemeanor or felony, may plead guilty or nolo contendere by mail by entering a plea as provided in RSA 502-A:19-b. If the plea is accepted by the court, the defendant shall not be required to appear.
III. Unless otherwise provided by law, any person who violates any rule adopted under RSA 227-G:4 shall be guilty of a violation.
Source. 2003, 43:1. 2007, 88:3, eff. Aug. 10, 2007.
227-G:6 Expenditure of Federal Funds.
In case the federal government shall make available to the division for its activities any funds in excess of the amounts estimated for such activities in the so-called appropriation acts, the division, with the approval of the governor and council, may expend such additional federal funds.
Source. 1995, 299:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1996.
227-G:7 Powers; Arrest; Validity of Prosecutions.
I. The director and the director's authorized agents shall have the authority of peace officers as defined under RSA 594:1 to serve criminal processes and make arrests to enforce the provisions of this title and any other laws, including title LXII, insofar as they pertain to the protection and improvement of forestlands throughout the state, and for the protection of persons and property on lands or property owned by, leased to, or otherwise under the control of the department.
II. Wardens, deputy wardens, and other persons authorized by the director may arrest without a warrant any person taken by the authorized person in the act of violating any of the laws for the protection and improvement of woodlands and may bring such person forthwith before the court or justice having jurisdiction.
Source. 1995, 299:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1996.
227-G:8 Validity of Prosecutions.
Forest rangers and officials of the division appointed to enforce this title and other laws provided for in RSA 227-G:7 are authorized, upon successful completion of the preparatory training programs for full-time or part-time police officers established by the police standards and training council under RSA 106-L and their subsequent certification as full-time or part-time police officers, to prosecute these laws within the jurisdiction of municipal and district courts, unless the prosecutorial jurisdiction over a particular case or class of cases is preempted by the county attorney or the attorney general. Prosecutions for violations of any provisions of this title are declared to be valid and proper, notwithstanding the existence of any law of this state dealing with matters that may be the same as or similar to those covered by this title.
Source. 1995, 299:1. 2007, 88:4, eff. Aug. 10, 2007. 2017, 206:13, eff. Sept. 8, 2017.
227-G:9 Training of Forest Rangers.
I. Any forest ranger of the division appointed to enforce the provisions of this title and other laws provided for in RSA 227-G:7, shall successfully complete the preparatory training for part-time police officers established by the police standards and training council pursuant to RSA 106-L no later than one year from the date of hire. Upon successful completion of the training program, such forest ranger shall be certified as a part-time police officer.
II. Any forest ranger of the division hired after January 1, 2005 appointed to enforce the provisions of this title and other laws provided for in RSA 227-G:7, shall successfully complete the preparatory training for full-time police officers established by the police standards and training council pursuant to RSA 106-L no later than one year from the date of hire. Upon successful completion of the training program, such forest ranger shall be certified as a full-time police officer.
III. Any forest ranger of the division hired before January 1, 2005 shall be certified as a full-time police officer upon successful completion of the preparatory training for full-time police officers established by the police standards and training council pursuant to RSA 106-L.
Source. 1995, 299:1. 2007, 88:5, eff. Aug. 10, 2007. 2017, 206:13, eff. Sept. 8, 2017.
227-G:10 Enhanced Penalty.
A court may, upon separate petition of the attorney general, or in connection with a petition for equity relief filed by the attorney general, levy upon any person who meets the requirements for enhanced penalties as defined in departmental rule, a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $10,000 per violation, along with any other injunctive relief deemed necessary by the court. The proceeds of any civil penalty levied pursuant to this section shall be deposited by the commissioner into the forest management and protection fund established under RSA 227-G:5, I.
Source. 2010, 171:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2011.