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Relating to the creation and administration of the On-The-Ground Conservation Program by the State Soil and Water Conservation Board.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
The Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board is required to implement a provision of this Act only if the legislature appropriates money specifically for that purpose. If the legislature does not appropriate money specifically for that purpose, the agency may, but is not required to, implement a provision of this Act using other appropriations available for that purpose.
HB 2619 would require the State Soil and Water Conservation Board to develop and administer a program to maximize public benefits by facilitating priority conservation measures and other soil and water conservation land improvement measures of landowners and operators.
Priority conservation measures include improving soil health characteristics, conserving and managing water resources, preventing and managing flooding, controlling invasive and nuisance species, improving resilience to weather extremes, climate variability, and natural disasters, protecting and enhancing native habitats, (including the protection of endangered species), mitigating and reducing soil erosion, restoring land damaged by development; and sequestering carbon to provide environmental benefits.
The state board would operate the program through grants from public or private sources.
This bill also authorizes the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board to establish cost-share rates for soil and water conservation land improvement measures under the program and to provide certification that specific soil and water conservation land improvement measures.
The state has a legitimate interest in promoting conservation and land restoration in a way that is fiscally responsible, respects private property rights, and facilitates voluntary conservation and restoration activities by private landowners using already available funding. It is our view that HB 2619 achieves these aims in a way consistent with individual liberty, private property rights, and limited government.