AMENDMENT 543 RATIFIED
Acquisition, Maintenance and Protection of Unique Lands and Water Areas.
Section 1. Declaration of Purpose.
The Legislature of Alabama finds that Alabama is endowed with a rich diversity of natural areas having unique ecological systems, plant and animal life, geological formations, wildlife habitats, recreational values and scenic beauty. As a part of the continuing growth of the population and the economic development of the state, it is necessary and desirable that certain lands and waters be set aside, managed and preserved for use as state parks, nature preserves, recreation areas, and wildlife management areas. In order to meet the State's outdoor recreation needs and to protect the natural heritage of Alabama for the benefit of present and future generations, it is the policy of the state to:
(a) Protect, manage, and enhance certain lands and waters of Alabama with full recognition that this generation is a trustee of the environment for succeeding generations;
(b) Protect, to the fullest extent practicable, recreational lands and areas of unique ecological, biological and geological importance; and
(c) Promote a proper balance among population growth, economic development, environmental protection, and ecological diversity. Accordingly, there is hereby established the Alabama Forever Wild Land Trust for the purpose of identifying, acquiring, managing, protecting and preserving natural lands and waters that are of environmental or recreational importance.
Section 2. Definitions.
(1) "Alabama Trust Fund" means the irrevocable, permanent trust fund created by Amendment 450 to this Alabama Constitution of 1901.
(2) "Alabama Trust Fund Board" means the board of trustees of the Alabama Trust Fund as established by Amendment 450 to this Alabama Constitution of 1901.
(3) "Appraised Value" means that price estimated in terms of money at which the property would change hands between a willing and financially able buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or sell.
(4) "Board" means the Board of Trustees of the Alabama Forever Wild Land Trust, as established by Section 4 of this Amendment.
(5) "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources or any other officer of the state who, by law, shall succeed to his responsibilities.
(6) "Conservation Easement" means a right, whether or not stated in the form of restriction, easement, covenant or condition, in any deed, will, or other instrument executed by or on behalf of the owner of land providing for the retention of properties predominantly in their natural, scenic, open or wooded condition, or as suitable habitat for fish and wildlife, or as recreational lands.
(7) "Dedication" means the transfer to the state of an estate, interest, or right in a natural area to fulfill the purposes of this Amendment.
(8) "Department" means the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources or any other department or agency of the state that, by law, shall succeed to its functions and responsibilities.
(9) "Final Approval Committee" means a Committee, as established by Section 6 of this Amendment, to be composed of the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
(10) "Forever Wild Land Trust" means the Alabama Forever Wild Land Trust created by this Amendment.
(11) "Instrument of Dedication" means any written document by which an estate, interest, or right in a natural area is formally dedicated as a natural area preserve.
(12) "Land" or "lands" means real property and any interests therein, including, but not limited to, fee simple titles, ownership interests less than fee simple, leases, easements, licenses, restrictions and use agreements. Such property and interests therein shall also include wetlands, estuarine areas and submerged lands and the waters thereon.
(13) "Natural Area" means any property, whether publicly or privately owned, (a) that retains or has generally reestablished its natural character, though it need not be completely natural and undisturbed, or (b) which is important in preserving rare or vanishing flora and fauna, native ecological systems, fish and wildlife habitats, geological, natural, scenic or similar features of scientific, recreational, or educational value benefitting the citizens of the state.
(14) "Natural Area Preserve" means a natural area that has been dedicated pursuant to Section 12 of this Amendment.
(15) "State" means the State of Alabama.
(16) "Stewardship" means the maintenance, protection, operation, enhancement, and management of lands acquired for the Forever Wild Land Trust.
(17) "Trustee" means a member of the Board of Trustees of the Forever Wild Land Trust.
(18) "Trust income" means the net income received by the state from the investment and reinvestment of all assets of the Alabama Trust Fund, determined in accordance with the provisions of Amendment Number 450 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901.
(19) In dividing the State into geographical regions:
(a) "Central District" means the following counties of the state: Autauga, Bibb, Chambers, Chilton, Clay, Coosa, Elmore, Greene, Hale, Jefferson, Lee, Perry, Pickens, Randolph, Shelby, Sumter, Talladega, Tallapoosa, and Tuscaloosa.
(b) "Northern District" means those counties in the geographical region of the state north of the Central District, as defined above.
(c) "Southern District" means those counties in the geographical region of the state south of the Central District, as defined above.
(20) "Person" means any individual, firm, corporation, trust, partnership, or association.
Section 3. Establishment of Forever Wild Land Trust, Lead Management Agency, and Categories of Lands to be Acquired.
(a) For the purposes set forth in this Amendment, there is hereby established the Alabama Forever Wild Land Trust, which shall be a permanent trust to be funded and administered in accordance with the provisions of this Amendment. Title to all properties acquired for the Forever Wild Land Trust shall be vested in the Alabama Trust Fund for the State of Alabama. The Department shall serve as the lead management agency with respect to all lands acquired and shall have the responsibility of providing to the Board administrative support as necessary.
(b) In order to protect the natural heritage and diversity of Alabama for future generations, the state, acting through the Forever Wild Land Trust, will acquire lands, the title of which shall be held in the Alabama Trust Fund, to ensure their protection and use for conservational, educational, recreational or aesthetic purposes. These lands may include, but shall not be limited to, the following: Wetlands, river corridors, lakes and streams, and the banks and shores thereof, springs, riverine, montane, plain, coastal, and other kinds of terrain, geological systems, areas supporting threatened or endangered species, sensitive and ecologically important lands, unusual habitat types, forests and woodlands, fish and wildlife habitats, wilderness areas, unusual assemblages of wildflowers, natural lands, waters or wetlands that will provide public hunting and fishing, lands having other distinctive natural or recreational characteristics, and lands that will constitute suitable additions to the state's system of parks and fish and wildlife management areas.
(c) Property purchased with Forever Wild Land Trust moneys or which become part of the trust property through dedication or by some other means shall be subject to the condemnation of easements, rights-of-way and other necessary rights and estates in property by or on behalf of corporations that construct, own or operate railroads, pipelines for the transportation of oil, gas, fuel or water, hydroelectric or other electric generating facilities and electric lines, telephone transmission lines and other communication facilities, or any other public utility or method of transportation which serves, or is intended to serve, the public convenience and necessity to the same extent and under the same conditions that such lands, if owned by private persons, would be subject to condemnation by such corporations under federal or state law now in effect or hereafter enacted. No use of any such lands as determined by the Board shall constitute a use thereof for public purposes that will require proof of actual necessity by any corporation seeking to condemn such lands.
(d) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Amendment, no property shall be acquired for the Alabama Trust Fund or with moneys from the Forever Wild Land Trust through condemnation or the use of eminent domain.
(e) No funds or assets of the Forever Wild Land Trust derived from any source shall be expended or used to construct or improve buildings, structures or facilities used for human lodging, feeding or entertainment, including, without limitation thereto, hotels and other lodging facilities, restaurants, convention centers and meeting halls, golf courses, dancing or meeting pavilions, tennis courts, recreational dams, exhibition halls, and similar facilities that have a principal purpose not related to the stewardship of properties of the Forever Wild Land Trust, the title of which is held in the Alabama Trust Fund, in their natural state; provided, however, that nothing herein contained shall be construed to prohibit the expenditure of funds allocated to the Stewardship Account for the construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, culverts, drainage facilities, hiking trails, boat launching ramps and other improvements located on Trust Lands to provide reasonable public access thereto, for the construction and maintenance of visitors' centers and facilities, interpretive displays and other facilities for the guidance and education of visitors, for the construction and maintenance of facilities and the acquisition of equipment necessary or appropriate in connection with the performance of stewardship responsibilities (including housing for custodial personnel), or for any other purpose reasonably related to the stewardship responsibilities of the Board.
Section 4. Establishment of Board of Trustees of the Alabama Forever Wild Land Trust.
(a) There is hereby established the Board of Trustees of the Alabama Forever Wild Land Trust, which shall consist of fifteen voting members as follows:
(1) One member shall be the Commissioner of the Department who shall also serve as Chairman of the Board.
(2) One member shall be the State Forester.
(3) Three members which shall be appointed by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education from Departments of Biology, Zoology, Environmental Sciences and Wildlife Science from eligible four-year institutions of higher education in Alabama. An eligible institution shall consist of a public or private four-year college or university, offering a degree in biology or one of its divisions, and having an enrollment of at least 1500 undergraduate students. There shall be one professional biologist appointed to the Board from eligible institutions in the Northern District of the state, one from such institutions in the Central District of the state, and one from such institutions in the Southern District of the state, as said districts are defined in Section 2 hereof. Each eligible institution in the appropriate geographical region shall be entitled to submit one nomination to the Alabama Commission on Higher Education for the professional biologist trustee from that region on the Board.
(4) One member shall be the Executive Director of the Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium.
(5) There shall be three members from each of the three geographical regions of the state as defined in Section 2 of this Amendment, as follows. Provided, however, at least one appointee by the Governor, at least one appointee by the Lieutenant Governor and at least one appointee by the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be black. If none of the recommending groups recommend a black to the appointing authority, said appointing authority shall appoint a black on his or her own initiative.
(A) One member from the Northern District shall be appointed by the Governor from a list of names presented by Group A and shall serve an initial term of six years. One member from the Northern District shall be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor from a list of names presented by Group B and shall serve an initial term of four years. One member from the Northern District shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives from a list of names presented by Group C and shall serve an initial term of two years.
(B) One member from the Central District shall be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor from a list of names presented by Group C and shall serve an initial term of six years. One member from the Central District shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives from a list of names presented by Group A and shall serve an initial term of four years. One member from the Central District shall be appointed by the Governor from a list of names presented by Group B and shall serve an initial term of two years.
(C) One member from the Southern District shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives from a list of names presented by Group B and shall serve an initial term of six years. One member from the Southern District shall be appointed by the Governor from a list of names presented by Group C and shall serve an initial term of four years. One member from the Southern District shall be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor from a list of names presented by Group A and shall serve an initial term of two years.
(D) Any successor appointments and appointments to vacancies shall be made in the same manner as described in subparagraphs (A), (B) and (C) above, and members appointed after the initial term of that office has expired shall serve for six-year terms, except that no member shall serve consecutive six-year terms.
(E) It is the intent of this Amendment that the eastern and western areas of the three geographical regions of the state shall be represented on the Board of Trustees.
(6) Each person appointed to the Board shall be and remain an Alabama resident and shall have a demonstrated knowledge of and commitment to land acquisition for the purposes of conservation and recreation. Organizations making recommendations to the appointing officials shall be Alabama organizations or the Alabama chapter of national organizations in order to ensure that the decisions affecting Alabama's future are made by Alabama residents.
The recommending groups are composed as follows:
(A) "Group A" shall consist of non-profit organizations, each having its principal programs extending generally throughout the State, whose demonstrated primary concerns are environmental protection for the state and its citizens and non-consumptive use and preservation of natural areas, and whose membership exceeds 750 individual residents of Alabama, including, but not limited to, The Nature Conservancy of Alabama, the Alabama Audubon Council (comprising the chapters in Alabama of the National Audubon Society), The Alabama Conservancy, the Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club, and their respective successor organizations.
(B) "Group B" shall consist of business, industry, trade associations and professional organizations, each having its principal programs extending generally throughout the state, and having a demonstrated concern for balancing economic growth with protection for the environment and increased recreational opportunities, including, but not limited to, the Business Council of Alabama, the Alabama Forestry Association, Alabama Forest Resources Center, the Alabama Farmers Federation, the Petroleum Council of Alabama, the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, and their respective successor organizations.
(C) "Group C" shall consist of non-profit organizations, each having its principal programs extending generally throughout the state, whose demonstrated primary purposes are to promote hunting, fishing, camping or other compatible recreational activities or conservation for such purposes, and whose membership exceeds 750 individual residents of Alabama, including, but not limited to, the Alabama Wildlife Federation, the Alabama State Advisory Council of Ducks Unlimited, Bowhunters of Alabama Inc., the Coastal Land Trust, Inc., the Gulf Coast Conservation Association, the Tennessee Valley Waterfowl Association, the Alabama Rifle and Pistol Association, the Alabama Chapter of the Safari Club International (whether or not those named organizations meet the membership requirement), and their respective successor organizations.
(D) In order to qualify as a recommending organization, each organization not specifically listed in this section must file with the Secretary of State and with the named organizations within the same "group", by January 1 preceding the date of expiration of term of office of Trustees hereunder, a written statement of intent to nominate persons to serve on the Board. This statement must include a request for designation of the "group" within which the organization plans to nominate Trustees and information demonstrating that the organization qualifies to make such nominations. It shall also include a copy of the organization's charter, stating its purpose. Should the Secretary of State or any of the named organizations within the same group oppose in writing the eligibility of the new organization to nominate members of the Board or the designation of the "group" within which it proposes to nominate members, then the Secretary of State shall determine the eligibility of the applying organization to submit nominations for membership on the Board and, if determined eligible, the "group" within which it shall submit nominations. In making this decision, the Secretary of State shall give due consideration to the views submitted to him by the organizations in the "group" within which the new organization proposes to submit nominations. An organization, together with its affiliates, cannot recommend names to the appointing officials as a member of more than one "group".
Each organization submitting nominations may submit, to the appropriate appointing official for that position on the Board, the names of not more than two of its members who have the qualifications to serve in the position for which they are being nominated. In the event that no organization within a group recommends names to the appointing official, then that official may appoint a Trustee from that group solely of his own choice.
(E) Terms of office of the initial Trustees shall begin on the January 1 following ratification of this Amendment, or on the first day of the third month following said ratification, whichever shall first occur. Terms of office of successor Trustees shall begin and end on anniversaries of that date. In the case of the initial appointments of Trustees, nominations shall be made to the appropriate appointing officials not later than one month after ratification of this Amendment, and appointments by said officials shall be made by the date of beginning of the initial Trustees' terms of office. Nominations of successor Trustees shall be made to the appropriate appointing officials not later than two months prior to the expiration of the Trustees' terms of office, and said officials shall appoint new Trustees within 30 calendar days after the expiration of said terms. In the event a Trustee resigns or dies, or otherwise vacates his office, the Commissioner or the Secretary of State shall promptly notify the appropriate nominating organizations and shall publish notice of such vacancy once a week for three successive weeks in three newspapers of regional circulation in this state with a request for new nominations from any group that may qualify to do so under the provisions of this Amendment. Nominations for a replacement Trustee shall be made to the appointing official during the 30 calendar days following such death, resignation or other vacation of office, and the appointing official shall appoint a replacement Trustee not later than the end of the next succeeding 30 calendar days thereafter. In the event the appropriate appointing official fails to make an initial appointment or an appointment within said 30-day periods for appointment after expiration of term of office or after death, resignation or other vacation of office, the right to make an appointment to fill that vacancy shall fall to the next appointing official in line of rotation of the Governor to the Lieutenant Governor to the Speaker of the House (with the Governor then to follow the Speaker); and, if that successor appointing official fails to make such appointment within 30 days, then the right to make the appointment shall fall to the next succeeding appointing official, all to the end that there will, as nearly as possible, always be a full complement of Trustees on the Board. Trustees appointed to fill a vacancy other than by reason of expiration of term of office shall serve the remainder of the unexpired term of the Trustee being replaced.
Section 5. Rights, Powers, and Duties of the Board.
(a) The Board is to meet at least quarterly each year for the transaction of its business and to review the progress of the Forever Wild Land Trust. It shall review written requests from state agencies, private organizations, and private citizens proposing that certain properties or interests therein be acquired. For purposes of establishing a quorum, there must be present at least three-fifths (3/5) of the members of the Board then in office at any Board meeting in order to conduct business; provided, however, that in absence of a quorum, the members present, by majority vote, may adjourn the meeting from time to time until a quorum shall attend. Any Board action or recommendation must be approved by at least three-fifths (3/5) of the members of the entire Board then in office, unless specified otherwise in this Amendment. Using its own knowledge and expertise, as well as the knowledge and expertise of the scientific community and state and federal agencies, the Board shall adopt a priority list of properties to be considered for acquisition. Recognizing that real estate transactions must involve willing sellers and may involve complicated procedures that could affect the availability of property, the Department shall, to the extent practicable, follow the directions of the Board in acquiring lands or waters. Provided, however, the Forever Wild Land Trust may only purchase or acquire an interest in property from the priority list of properties adopted by the Board.
(b) In addition to the site-specific management and allowable use guidelines referred to in Section 9, the Board may recommend to the Department rules, regulations and management criteria, which the Board feels would be beneficial to carrying out the goals and purposes of this Amendment.
(c) The Board shall assist the Department in developing and maintaining an inventory of areas and sites which through acquisition become state natural and/or recreational areas and shall make public as desirable information regarding their location, management, regulation, and permissible public uses.
(d) The Board shall prepare and submit to the Governor and the state Legislature, on or before February 1 of each year, a report which shall describe and account for all expenditures and acquisitions by the Forever Wild Land Trust for the preceding fiscal year, as well as plans for the current fiscal year. The Board shall present this annual report to the public at a public meeting to be held within ten days after February 1 of each year. The public meeting shall be an informal process to present information on the Forever Wild Land Trust to the public and give the public an opportunity to have a dialogue with the Board regarding its future plans and operations.
(e) Before purchasing or acquiring any interest in lands with moneys from the Forever Wild Land Trust, the Board, acting through the Commissioner, or the Commissioner on his own initiative, shall obtain at least two appraisals from certified real estate appraisers. In no event shall the Board expend more than the "appraised value", as defined in Section 2 of this Amendment, in purchasing such lands; provided, however, that by affirmative vote of at least three-fourths (3/4) of the members of the Board, the Board may expend up to 125 percent of the appraised value for such purchase where such action is necessary to accomplish the purposes and goals of this Amendment.
(f) The Board may assume indebtedness on behalf of the Forever Wild Land Trust that may be owed with respect to real or personal property given, donated, contributed or devised to the Forever Wild Land Trust, or that may be secured by a mortgage, deed of trust or security interest covering such property, and to agree to pay such indebtedness from current assets or future revenues of the Forever Wild Land Trust; provided that the present value of all installments of principal and of interest on such indebtedness at the time of the assumption thereof, determined in accordance with accepted principles and using a discount rate equal to the rate of interest payable on such indebtedness, shall be less than 80% of the fair market value of such property as determined by an active public market for such property or an appraisal performed by an independent, professionally qualified appraiser.
(g) The Board may contract for the purchase of tracts or parcels of land in which the purchase price shall be payable in future installments, together with such rate of interest on the unpaid balance of such purchase price as the Board shall determine to be reasonable, and to secure the payment of such installments, together with the interest thereon, by purchase money mortgages on the land so acquired and by a pledge of future revenues committed to the Forever Wild Land Trust, including, without limitation thereto, any portion of the trust income allocated to said trust by Section 7 of this Amendment; provided that such installments shall in no event exceed 80% of the fair market value of such property determined as set forth in the preceding subsection and provided further that the total cumulative indebtedness assumed each year under the preceding sub-section (f) together with the total cumulative indebtedness incurred each year by purchase money mortgages as provided in this sub-section (g) shall be limited to no more than 25% of the trust income allocated to said trust for the preceding year.
(h) The Board may enter into contracts with any person, nonprofit organization, corporation, governmental entity or other entity concerning tracts or parcels of land that constitute desirable acquisitions for the Forever Wild Land Trust pursuant to which such person, nonprofit organization, corporation, governmental entity or other entity will agree to acquire and hold such land, or to hold such land if theretofore acquired by such person, nonprofit organization, corporation, governmental entity or other entity and to sell or donate such land to the Forever Wild Land Trust at some future date, in the interim preserving and managing such land in its natural state subject to such conditions, including the reimbursement of expenses, as the Board shall deem advantageous for the ultimate acquisition and preservation of such land.
(i) The Board may sell, lease or exchange specific properties or interests therein acquired or held by the Alabama Trust Fund for the Forever Wild Land Trust. Any such sale or exchange shall be made at not less than the "appraised value", as defined in Section 2 of this Amendment; provided, however, that by affirmative vote of at least three-fourths (3/4) of the members of the Board, the Board may authorize and direct the Commissioner to sell or exchange property of said trust for not less than 85 percent of the appraised value where such action is necessary to accomplish the purposes and goals of the Amendment. All moneys received from any such sale or lease shall be paid into the Forever Wild Land Trust.
(j) The Board shall establish a technical advisory committee, consisting of the State Forester, the President of the Alabama Chapter of the Wildlife Society, the State Geologist, and any other person whom the Board may desire to appoint, for the purpose of obtaining advice and assistance in performing the Board's functions and duties under this Amendment.
(k) In addition, the Board is authorized at its discretion:
(1) to establish procedures relating to the confidentiality of information where necessary to accomplish the purposes and goals of this Amendment;
(2) to cooperate or contract with any federal, state or local government agency, private organization, or individual to accomplish any of the purposes and goals of this Amendment, paying any reasonable fees or expenses in connection with such cooperation or contracts from moneys held under or within the Forever Wild Land Trust;
(3) to recommend that moneys paid into the Forever Wild Land Trust be allowed to accumulate, with only the income thereon being spent, or that the corpus or principal of the Forever Wild Land Trust be expended in whole or in part;
(4) to do any and all things necessary to take advantage of federal, state, or local government or private funds donated or obtainable through the use of the Forever Wild Land Trust; and
(5) to adopt, alter and repeal bylaws, regulations and rules in accordance with the provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act for the regulation and conduct of its affairs and business in accordance with the provisions of the Alabama Administrative Procedures Act.
(l) Members of the Board and the technical advisory committee shall be entitled to receive the per diem allowance and travel expenses provided by law to state employees. These expense payments shall be for the sole purpose of travel to and from their places of residence to meetings and for travel involving official business of the Forever Wild Land Trust. Those members who are state officials or employees shall serve without compensation or expense allowances other than that to which they are otherwise entitled in the positions they hold.
(m) The Commissioner and the Department are hereby specifically authorized and empowered to carry out all directions and recommendations of the Board made hereunder to accomplish the purposes of the Forever Wild Land Trust and this Amendment.
Section 6. Final Approval Committee.
There is hereby established a Final Approval Committee to be composed of the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Before purchasing or leasing any property, or acquiring any interest therein, with any funds from the Forever Wild Land Trust or selling any properties previously purchased from the Forever Wild Land Trust, the Board shall submit to the Final Approval Committee a written proposal of the purchase, lease, sale or acquisition of any other interest in property. Said proposal shall include a legal description of the property to be purchased, leased or sold; the proposed purchase, lease or sale price; and any additional terms of the sale, purchase, lease or other interest therein. The Final Approval Committee shall approve or disapprove the proposal by a majority vote of the full membership of said Committee within 30 days after the date of submission of the proposal. Failure of the Committee to act within 30 days of submission shall constitute approval of said proposal.
Section 7. Source of Funds.
(a) Beginning with the state's 1992-1993 fiscal year, there shall be allocated and paid into the Forever Wild Land Trust the percentage of trust income earned from the Alabama Trust Fund that would have been reinvested in the Alabama Trust Fund under Section 4(c) of Amendment Number 450 to this Alabama Constitution of 1901. Notwithstanding Section 4(c) of Amendment Number 450 to the Alabama Constitution of 1901, the percentage of trust income earned from the Alabama Trust Fund shall be allocated to the Forever Wild Land Trust as follows:
(1) For the 1992-1993 fiscal year, four percent (4%) of the trust income earned from the Alabama Trust Fund.
(2) For the 1993-1994 fiscal year, five percent (5%) of the trust income earned from the Alabama Trust Fund.
(3) For the 1994-1995 fiscal year, six percent (6%) of the trust income earned from the Alabama Trust Fund.
(4) For the 1995-1996 fiscal year, seven percent (7%) of the trust income earned from the Alabama Trust Fund.
(5) For the 1996-1997 fiscal year, eight percent (8%) of the trust income earned from the Alabama Trust Fund.
(6) For the 1997-1998 fiscal year, nine percent (9%) of the trust income earned from the Alabama Trust Fund.
(7) Thereafter, ten percent (10%) of the trust income earned from the Alabama Trust Fund; provided, however, that in no event shall such trust income paid to the Forever Wild Land Trust exceed $15 million in any one fiscal year.
(b) The Alabama Trust Fund Board shall provide the Board of Trustees of the Forever Wild Land Trust with advice and assistance in the investment of funds in the Forever Wild Land Trust.
(c) Title to the property acquired from funds in the Forever Wild Land Trust shall be held in the Alabama Trust Fund for the State of Alabama. Provided, however, the Alabama Trust Fund Board shall not have any responsibility for nor any control over the approving or disapproving of the acquisition, disposition or use of any such property. Nothing in this Amendment or Amendment 450 to this Alabama Constitution of 1901 shall be construed so as to require the Alabama Trust Fund Board to have a fiduciary responsibility for the investment of Forever Wild Land Trust funds or the production of income from property acquired by the Board of Trustees of the Forever Wild Land Trust.
(d) The amounts allocated to the Forever Wild Land Trust shall be included in determining whether the trust income received by the state from the Alabama Trust Fund equals or exceeds $60,000,000 for the purposes of the County Government Capital Improvement Act (codified at Sections 11-29-1 through 11-29-7 of the Code of Alabama, 1975, as amended) and the Municipal Government Capital Improvement Act (codified at Sections 11-66-1 through 11-66-7 of the Code of Alabama, 1975, as amended). In no event shall any provision hereof serve to decrease the amount of income from the Alabama Trust Fund which is to be appropriated to the Municipal Government Capital Improvement Fund and the County Government Capital Improvement Fund under the above-referenced acts.
Section 8. Donations of Property.
Any person making a donation of any property or any interest therein, to the state for the purposes of this Amendment, shall receive, irrespective of any other provisions of the income tax laws of the state, twice the ordinary deduction for state income tax purposes for the taxable year in which the property or interest is donated. Provided, however, the value of any such property or interest therein, subject to this double deduction, shall be limited to the actual value of the property, or any interest therein, donated to the state which shall not include any indebtedness, encumbrances or liens assumed by the Forever Wild Land Trust or the value of any interests or rights retained by the donor.
For the purposes of this section, the "actual value" of property shall be the appraised value for ad valorem taxation purposes, averaged over the preceding five years.
Section 9. Stewardship Account.
The Alabama Trust Fund Board shall establish a separate account within the Alabama Trust Fund to be known as the Forever Wild Land Trust Stewardship Account. When the Forever Wild Land Trust acquires property or an interest in property pursuant to this Amendment, the Board of Trustees of the Forever Wild Land Trust shall set aside an amount from the Forever Wild Land Trust equal to fifteen percent (15%) of the appraised value of the land acquired, or the land affected if less than a fee interest was acquired. The Alabama Trust Fund Board shall provide for the investment of the Stewardship Account. The Board of Trustees of the Alabama Forever Wild Land Trust may authorize the Department to expend any interest income generated from the investment of funds within the Stewardship Account by the Alabama Trust Fund Board. Provided, however, the Commissioner shall notify the Board of Trustees in writing if he determines that the interest income projected to be generated from the Forever Wild Land Trust Stewardship Account for the next fiscal year will be insufficient to properly manage property acquired by the Forever Wild Land Trust. The Board may authorize by a three-fifths (3/5) vote that funds within the corpus of the Forever Wild Land Trust Stewardship Account be expended by the Department for management purposes for the next fiscal year, provided that funds from the Stewardship Account may not be expended to purchase additional property or interests therein. Within one year after the Forever Wild Land Trust acquires any properties pursuant to this Amendment, the Board of Trustees of the Forever Wild Land Trust shall develop management and allowable use guidelines which shall be followed by the Department in the administration and stewardship of that piece of property. The Lands Division of the Department shall, in accordance with such general directions as may be given by the Board of Trustees, coordinate management of properties acquired pursuant to this Amendment and expenditures from the Stewardship Account. All lands will be managed under the multiple-use management principle; to insure that all resource values including recreation, hunting, fishing, boating, hiking, aesthetics, soil, water, forest management and minerals are protected or enhanced. No use will be allowed that is not compatible with the primary purpose for acquiring the land. In coordinating such management within the Department, the Game and Fish Division of the Department shall manage wildlife and fisheries programs; the State Parks Division of the Department shall manage parks programs; the Lands Division of the Department shall manage natural areas programs through its Natural Heritage Program; and the Lands Division of the Department shall manage other activities and programs relating to Forever Wild Land Trust properties. The Forestry Commission shall serve as consultant to the Department for the purpose of managing the forest and forestry resources programs. Any income that may be generated from the property or from any use of said property acquired through the Forever Wild Land Trust shall be treated as interest income of the Alabama Trust Fund and shall accrue to the credit of the general fund of the State of Alabama.
The right of the public to hunt and fish on the lands and easements acquired under the provisions of this act shall not be abridged or restricted, subject to such rules, regulations, seasons and limits as are established by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Section 10. Enforceability of Conservation Restrictions; Recordation; Acquisition and Disposal of Interests.
(a) No conservation restriction or easement as defined in Section 2 of this Amendment held by any governmental body shall be unenforceable on account of lack of privity of estate or contract or lack of benefit to particular land or on account of the benefit being assignable to or being assigned to any other governmental body with like purposes. All such restrictions and easements shall be duly recorded and indexed in the manner of other conveyances of interests in land, and shall describe the land subject to the restrictions or easements by adequate legal description or by reference to a recorded plat showing its boundaries.
Such conservation restrictions are interests in land and may be acquired by any governmental body which has power to acquire interests in land, in the same manner as it may acquire other interests in land. Such a restriction or easement may be enforced by injunction or proceeding in equity, and shall entitle the holder of it to enter the land in a reasonable manner and at reasonable times to assure compliance. Such a restriction or easement may be released in whole or in part, by the holder for such consideration, if any, as the holder may determine, in the same manner as the holder may dispose of land or other interest in land, subject to such conditions as may have been imposed at the time of creation of the restriction.
This section shall not be construed to imply that any restriction, easement, covenant or condition which does not have the benefit of this section shall, on account of any provision hereof, be unforceable. Nothing in this Amendment shall diminish the powers granted by any law to acquire by purchase, gift, eminent domain or otherwise as restricting the use of an existing or future easement, express or implied, in favor of any utility or other holder of an easement for public purpose. The existence of conservation easements or restrictions shall not of itself be proof of value as a measure of damages in any eminent domain proceedings.
(b) When a conservation restriction or easement is held by public body under the program established by this Amendment, the real property subject thereto shall be assessed for taxation purposes on the basis of the true cash value of the property or as otherwise provided by law, less such reduction in value as may result from the granting of the conservation restriction or easement. The value of the interest held by the public body shall be exempt from property taxation to the same extent as other public property.
Section 11. Alabama Natural Heritage Program.
(a) The Alabama Natural Heritage Program is hereby established as a part of the Lands Division of the Department, or its duly designated successor, and shall be funded from the Forever Wild Land Trust or the Forever Wild Land Trust Stewardship Account as provided by the Board, and from private donations.
(b) For purposes of this program, the Department, subject to approval by the Board, shall:
(1) Produce an inventory of Alabama's natural heritage resources, including their location and ecological status.
(2) Maintain a natural heritage data bank of inventory data and other relevant information for ecologically significant sites supporting natural heritage resources. Information from this data bank may be made available to public agencies and to private institutions or individuals for environmental assessment and land management purposes.
(3) Develop a Natural Heritage Plan which suggests priorities for the protection, acquisition and management of dedicated natural area preserves.
(4) Establish procedures relating to the confidentiality of data and inquiries for information in order to protect natural resources and encourage use by public agencies and private organizations and individuals in planning or conducting their activities.
Section 12. Dedication of Natural Area Preserves.
(a) The Department shall, in the name of the State and upon the recommendation of the Board, accept the dedication of natural areas on lands deemed by the Board and the Commissioner to qualify as natural area preserves under the provisions of this Amendment. Natural area preserves may be offered for dedication by voluntary act of the owner. The owner of a qualified natural area may transfer fee simple title or other interest in land to the State. Natural area preserves may be acquired by gift, grant or purchase.
(b) Dedication of a natural area preserve shall become effective only upon acceptance of the instrument of dedication by the Board and the Commissioner.
(c) The instrument of dedication may:
(1) Contain restrictions and other provisions relating to management, use, development, transfer, and public access, and may contain any other restrictions and provisions as may be necessary or advisable to further the purposes of this Amendment;
(2) Define, consistent with the purposes of this Amendment, the respective rights and duties of the owner and of the state and provide procedures to be followed in case of violations of the restrictions;
(3) Recognize and create reversionary rights, transfers upon condition or with limitations, and gifts over; and
(4) Vary in provisions from one natural area preserve to another in accordance with differences in the characteristics and conditions of the several areas.
(d) Public departments, commissions, boards, counties, municipalities, corporations, colleges, universities and all other agencies and instrumentalities of the state and its political subdivisions may dedicate suitable areas within their jurisdiction as natural area preserves in accordance with the powers and authorities granted to such organizations by existing state legislation.
(e) The Board may enter into amendments to the instrument of dedication upon finding that such amendments will not permit an impairment, disturbance, use, or development of the area inconsistent with the provisions of this Amendment. If the fee simple estate in the natural area preserve is not held by the state under this article, no amendment may be made without the written consent of the owner of the other interests therein.
Section 13. Sunset Provision.
Beginning with the state's 2012-2013 fiscal year and each succeeding fiscal year, all moneys to be paid into the Forever Wild Land Trust shall be paid to the Alabama Trust Fund in the event the Legislature has not provided for the continuation of payments into the Forever Wild Land Trust Fund as provided for in this section, provided that 2.5% of the trust income earned from the investment of funds in the Alabama Trust Fund shall continue to be paid to the Forever Wild Stewardship Account established in Section 9 of this Amendment until such time as the Legislature, by legislative act, determines that interest income earned from the investment of funds within the corpus of the Stewardship Account is sufficient for the proper administration and stewardship of properties acquired from the Forever Wild Land Trust. And provided further, that the Legislature, by legislative act, or by the enactment of a constitutional amendment may continue payment of the revenues provided in Section 7 hereof, or at any time provide for the payment of other revenues, into the Forever Wild Land Trust. At such time as the payment of trust income into the Forever Wild Land Trust shall cease, the percentage of trust income accruing to said trust fund shall be paid into the Alabama Trust Fund each year to become a part of the corpus of the Alabama Trust Fund.
Section 14. Amendment Self-Executing.
This Amendment shall be self-executing, but the Legislature shall have the right and power to enact laws supplemental hereto and in furtherance of the purposes and objectives hereof, provided that such laws are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Amendment.
Section 15. Severability.
If any provision of this Amendment, or the application of any provision to any entity, person, or circumstance is for any reason adjudged by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, the remainder of this Amendment and its application shall not be affected.