State Enabling Legislation

Towns and cities

Conservation Commissions

SECTION 45-35-1

§ 45-35-1 Authority to create commission – Purpose. – Town or town councils have the authority to create a commission, to be called the conservation commission, the purpose of which is to promote and develop the natural resources, protect the watershed resources, and preserve natural esthetic areas within municipalities. The commission shall conduct researches into its local land areas and seek to coordinate the activities of unofficial bodies organized for similar purposes, and may advertise, prepare, print, and distribute books, maps, charts, plans, and pamphlets which in its judgment it deems necessary for its work. It shall make and keep an index of all open spaces within the town or town, publicly or privately owned, including open marshlands, swamps, and other wetlands for the purpose of obtaining information on the proper use of those areas. It may recommend to municipal councils, boards, or agencies, a program for the better promotion, development, utilization, or preservation of open areas, streams, shores, wooded areas, roadsides, swamps, marshlands, and natural esthetic areas. It shall keep accurate records of its meetings and actions and file an annual report. It has power to appoint, subject to any personnel procurement program ordained by the town or town, clerks and other employees it may from time to time require.

SECTION 45-35-2

§ 45-35-2 Appointment of commission members. – The commission shall consist of three (3) to seven (7) members appointed by the town administrator with the advice and consent of the town council, or by the town council, or by any authority designated in its town or town charter. The members of the commission shall be appointed for three (3) year terms, except the initial appointments of some of the members shall be for less than three (3) years to the end that the initial appointments shall be staggered and so that all subsequent vacancies shall not reoccur at the same time. In the event of a vacancy, interim appointments may be made by the appointing authority to complete the unexpired term of the position. Duly incorporated and existing wildlife, conservation, sportsmen’s, horticultural, or like organizations may present to the appointing authority a list of qualified citizens from which lists the appointing authority must select at least three (3) members of the commission and from which list the appointing authority may select the remainder.

SECTION 45-35-3

§ 45-35-3 Acquisitions – Free access to public land not restricted. – Subject to the approval of the town or town council and financial town meeting, the commission may receive gifts of funds, lands, buildings, or other properties in the name of the municipality, and may also acquire by gift, purchase, grant, bequest, devise, lease, or otherwise, the fee in those lands or water rights or any lease interest, development right, easement, covenant, or other contractual right, including conveyances, and, shall manage these gifts and acquisitions in accordance with the purposes established in this chapter. However, nothing in this chapter shall be construed to deny to the people access to the lands for all legitimate purposes. No town or town may deny or restrict to the people free access to the lands, or to any other land held by or for the town or town for recreation purposes.

SECTION 45-35-4

§ 45-35-4 Meetings – Records. – All meetings of the commission are open to the public and any person or that person’s duly constituted representative is entitled to appear and be heard on any matter before the commission before it reaches its decision. All records of its proceedings, resolutions, and actions are open to public view.

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