Proposed Revisions to the Rules Governing Conservation Districts (Title 2)
ANRC’s Title 2, “Rules Governing Conservation Districts,” provides general operating requirements for districts created under the Conservation District Law, Ark. Code Ann. §14-125-101, et seq. Each of Arkansas’s conservation districts is governed by a board of five volunteers serving in elected or appointed positions. ANRC assists the districts with carrying out conservation programs and provides funding to the districts.
The proposed Conservation District Director Emeritus program recognizes individuals that have served as conservation district directors or in equivalent conservation service for 25 or more years. Long-term conservation district directors offer desirable knowledge, experience, and wisdom to a district board, but these individuals are often incapable of attending monthly district meetings due to health complaints. An individual designated as a Director Emeritus would resign from his or her elected or appointed role, but may continue to attend some or all district meetings in an advisory role so long as he or she remains willing and able.
ANRC also proposes amendments to the district election procedures to clarify the duties of district directors in conducting the election and to increase voter participation by allowing early voting. (Appointed district directors are already responsible for conducting district elections, because district director races are not part of the general ballot.)
Finally, ANRC proposes revisions to district operating and funding procedures. In the past, ANRC automatically paid dues to the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts and the National Association of Conservation Districts on behalf of the districts. New language states that these payments will only be made on behalf of a district that does not object to those payments being made on its behalf. A new section focuses on district meetings and includes the responsibilities of a district board when the date or time of a district board meeting is changed. Another new section addresses required hiring practices and the types of employment policies each district must adopt. Proposed revisions to funding procedures include simplifying ANRC’s document submission process so that district employees have fewer deadlines to remember and providing more detail to districts regarding what ANRC expects them from them as an annual operating plan.
ANRC held a public hearing on February 18, 2016 and accepted comment from February 3 – March 9, 2016. On March 16, 2016, the Commission approved going forward with the draft of Title 2 below. A Memorandum responding to comments received on these rules as well as the comments received are also below. These rules will be reviewed by the General Assembly in May, and if approved, will become effective July 1, 2016.
1. Proposed revision to Title 2. (Language proposed for deletion within this document is struck through like this:
water plan. New language is underlined.)
2. Memorandum in Response to Comments.