State of North Carolina

James B. Hunt, Jr.
Governor

EXECUTIVE ORDER 96
Conservation of Prime Agricultural and Forest Lands

 

    WHEREAS, it is the policy of the State of North Carolina
as set forth in N.C.G.S. 139-1, et seq., 106-583 and 113A-3, to
provide for the conservation of soil to promote the efficient produc-
tion and utilization of the products of the soil as essential to
the health and economic well-being of its citizens, and to conserve
and protect natural resources; and

    WHEREAS, prime agricultural and forest lands are being converted
to urban, commercial, industrial, transportation and water impoundment
uses at a rate in excess of 36,000 acres per year; and

    WHEREAS, the conversion of prime lands to irreversible non-farm
uses may ultimately reduce food and fiber production capacity,
thus forcing a reliance on marginally productive lands that would
result in greater soil erosion, higher energy and fertilizer require-
ments and increased environmental damage; and

    WHEREAS, the public investment policies and actions of State
agencies and instrumentalities contribute significantly to the
conversion of prime agricultural and forest lands, when there may
be alternatives available that are less destructive to our best
lands; and

    WHEREAS, the State seeks to support and assist compliance
with the Farmland Protection Policy Act adobted by the United States
Congress on December 22, 1981;

    NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:

    Section 1. (A) It shall be State policy that farm and timber
production are the highest priority uses of prime agricultural
and forest land.

    (B) All State agencies, as defined in N.C.G.S. 143B-3, under
the jurisdiction of the Governor shall ensure that actions taken
by those agencies will minimize the loss of prime agricultural
and forest lands. As used herein, "agency" shall refer to an agency
under the jurisdiction of the Governor.

    (C) As used herein, the term "actions" shall mean all public
investments and land acquisitions by the State.

    (D) As used herein, the term "prime agricultural and forest
land" shall mean those lands, as defined in the federal Farmland
Protection Policy Act, which possess the best combination of physical
and chemical characteristics for producing food, feed, fiber
including forest products), forage, oilseed, and other agricultural
products (including livestock), without intolerable soil erosion.
This policy does not apply to lands which are already in or committed
to development projects such as water impoundment, transportation,
and urban development.

    Section 2. (A) To these ends I direct the following steps
be taken:

1. The Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and
    Community Development is hereby designated as the agent
    principally responsible for carrying out this directive.
    the Secretary shall review the actions of other State
    agencies and advise the Governor when it appears that
    any such action does not comply with the intest of this
    directive with respect to the conservation of prime agri-
    cultural and forest lands. The Secretary, in consulation
    with the Secretary of the Department of Administration,
    may establish such procedures as it deemed appropriate
    to ensure the timely cooperation of such other State
    agencies. All procedures shall, to the maximum extent
    possible, adhere to the state clearinghouse intergovernmental
    review process.

    2. The Soil and Water Conservation commission shall have
    the coordination responsibility for the program of conserva-
    tion of agricultural and forest lands to be established
    by this Order.

    3. The Commission, in cooperation with the Secretary and
    appropriate Federal, State and local agencies, shall develop,
    implement, and publicize the program.

(B) The Soil and Water Conservation Commission shall:
    1. Seek the participation and support of each soil and water
    conservation district in North Carolina in carrying out
    this program.

    2. Work closely with each district to develop a map of prime
    agricultural and forest lands within the district. The
    districts shall authenticate the county maps and shall
    work with the Commission to provide for the distribution
    of copies of each county's maps to appropriate public
    officials. The Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary
    of Administration, and the Chairman of the North Carolina
    Utilities Commisison shall receive copies of the maps
    for each county.

    3. Assist each district board of supervisors in developing
    local procedures for:
        a. The identification of proposed State actions subject
        to review by the local board;
        b. The review process to determine if proposed State
        actions will have significant adverse effect on prime
        agricultural and forest lands in the district; and
        c. The reporting of findings by the local board to include
        recommendations of feasible and prudent alternatives
        to the proposed State actions, when appropriate.

    (C) Agencies under the jurisdiction of the Governor will
provide sufficient information and incorporate the district review
process into their normal review procedures consistent with this
Executive Order. The review process must be completed and its
outcome reported within 60 days after notice is mailed to the district
board. If an agency has not received a report from the district
board or commission within 60 days, the agency may proceed without
such report.

    (D) An agency will give due consideration to comments of
the district board of supervisors or the commission or both. If,
after the review process is completed, an agency modifies its proposed
action is a way which will or may substantially increase the adverse
effedts on prime agricultural and forest lands, or shift adverse
effects to lands in a different location, the agency will repeat
the review process.

    (E) After consulting with the Commission, any State agency
may classify its activities by size or type so as to exclude from
the notice process de minimis cases which will not have a significant
adverse effect on prime agricultural and forest lands.

    Section 3. By June 30, 1984, all State agencies shall report
to the Governor on (a) the overall effect of their actions, programs
regulations, procedures and operations on the conversation of prime
agricultural and forest lands; and (b) corrective measures that
the agency intends to take to avoid and minimize the conversion
of such lands to other uses; and (c) any statutory authorities
which may hinder compliance with this directive.

    Section 4. This Order shall become effective January 1, 1984.


    Done in the Capital City of Raleigh, North Carolina, this
the Twenty-third day of August, 1983.

[Seal]

    [Signature]
    James B. Hunt, Jr.
    Governor