Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 10.1. Conservation
11/19/2019

Article 6. Forest Wardens and Fires.

§ 10.1-1134.1. Definitions.

As used in this article, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Orchard" means agricultural land located in the Commonwealth consisting of at least one-half acre of contiguous land dedicated to the growing of crops from trees, bushes, or vines, which crops are used or are intended to be used for commercial purposes.

"Vineyard" means agricultural land located in the Commonwealth consisting of at least one-half acre of contiguous land dedicated to the growing of grapes that are used or are intended to be used for commercial purposes.

2018, c. 197.

§ 10.1-1135. Appointment and compensation of forest wardens; oath; powers.

The State Forester, when he deems it necessary, may request the Governor to commission persons designated by the State Forester to act as forest wardens of the Commonwealth, to enforce the forest laws and, under his direction, to aid in carrying out the purposes of this chapter. Such wardens shall receive compensation as may be provided in accordance with law for the purpose. Before entering upon the duties of their office, forest wardens thus appointed shall take the proper official oath before the clerk of the court of the county or city in which they reside. While holding such office forest wardens shall be conservators of the peace. They also shall have the authority to enforce the provisions of § 62.1-194.2.

The State Forester may designate certain forest wardens to be special forest wardens. Special forest wardens shall have the same authority and power as sheriffs throughout the Commonwealth to enforce the forest laws.

Code 1950, § 10-55; 1964, c. 79; 1970, c. 433; 1986, cc. 188, 567; 1988, cc. 196, 891.

§ 10.1-1136. Duties of forest wardens.

The duties of the forest wardens are to (i) enforce all forest and forest fire statutes and regulations of the Commonwealth, (ii) serve as forest fire incident commander and perform other duties as needed in the management and suppression of forest fire incidents as long as the authority granted under this section does not conflict with or diminish the lawful authority, duties, and responsibilities of fire chiefs or other fire service officers in charge, including but not limited to the provisions of Chapter 2 (§ 27-6.1 et seq.) of Title 27, and (iii) protect the forests of the Commonwealth.

Code 1950, § 10-56; 1986, c. 188; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1137. Duty in case of fires and payment of costs of suppression.

When any forest warden sees or receives a report of a forest fire, he shall proceed immediately to the scene of the fire and employ such persons and means as in his judgment are expedient and necessary to extinguish the fire, within the limits of the expense he has been authorized to incur in his instructions from the State Forester. He shall keep an itemized account of all expenses incurred and immediately send the account verified by affidavit to the State Forester.

Upon approval by the State Forester the account shall be paid from the Forestry Operations Fund.

No such payment shall be made to any person who has maliciously started the fire or to any person whose negligence caused or contributed to the setting of the fire.

Code 1950, § 10-57; 1964, c. 79; 1986, cc. 188, 567; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1138. Rewards for information leading to conviction of arsonists or incendiaries.

The State Forester shall be authorized, whenever it appears to him that forest fires in any part of the Commonwealth are caused by unknown arsonists or incendiaries, to offer a monetary reward for information sufficient to procure conviction in a court of appropriate jurisdiction of the person or persons responsible for such fire. No law-enforcement officer paid in whole or in part from public funds or employee of the Department shall be eligible to receive such reward.

All such reward money shall be paid from funds appropriated for the protection and development of the forest resources of this Commonwealth, and shall not exceed either $10,000 paid in any one fiscal year or $2,000 paid to any one person for information leading to any one conviction.

1966, c. 8, § 10-57.1; 1986, cc. 188, 567; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1139. Who may be summoned to aid forest warden.

Any forest warden to whom written instructions have been issued by the State Forester authorizing him to employ persons to assist in suppressing forest fires, shall have the authority to summon as many able-bodied persons between eighteen and fifty years of age as may, in his discretion, be reasonably necessary to assist in extinguishing any forest fire in any county or city of the Commonwealth which is organized for forest fire control under the direction of the State Forester. Any person summoned by a forest warden to fight a forest fire shall be paid at the rate of pay provided in the Department of Forestry wage scale for fire fighting in effect in the county or city, or part thereof, in which the fire is fought. Wardens shall not summon for such service any person while engaged in maintaining the rights-of-way of railroads for the safe passage of trains, nor any station agent, operator or other person while engaged in duties necessary for the safe operation of trains.

Any person summoned who fails or refuses to assist in fighting the fire, unless the failure is due to physical inability or other valid reason, shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.

Code 1950, § 10-59; 1964, c. 79; 1973, c. 401; 1986, c. 188; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1140. Liability of warden for trespass.

No action for trespass shall lie against any forest warden on account of lawful acts done in the legal performance of his duties.

Code 1950, § 10-60; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1140.1. Defense of forest wardens.

If any commissioned forest warden appointed by the State Forester is brought before any regulatory body, summoned before any grand jury, arrested, indicted or otherwise prosecuted on any criminal charge arising out of any act committed in the discharge of his official duties, the State Forester may employ special counsel approved by the Attorney General to defend the forest warden. Upon a finding that the forest warden did not violate a law or regulation resulting from the act which was subject of the investigation, the State Forester shall pay the special counsel legal fees and expenses subject to the approval of the Attorney General. The payment shall be made from funds appropriated for the administration of the Department of Forestry.

1992, c. 113.

§ 10.1-1141. Liability and recovery of cost of fighting forest fires by localities and the State Forester.

A. The State Forester in the name of the Commonwealth shall collect the costs of firefighting performed under the direction of a forest warden in accordance with § 10.1-1139 from any person who, negligently or intentionally without using reasonable care and precaution starts a fire or who negligently or intentionally fails to prevent its escape, which fire burns on any forestland, brushland, grassland or wasteland. Such person shall be liable for the full amount of all expenses incurred by the Commonwealth, for fighting or extinguishing such fire. All expenses collected shall be credited to the Forestry Operations Fund. It shall be the duty of the Commonwealth's attorneys to institute and prosecute proper proceedings under this section, at the instance of the State Forester.

B. Any locality may collect the costs of firefighting from any person who intentionally starts a fire and who fails to attempt to prevent its escape, which fire burns on any forestland, brushland, grassland or wasteland. Such person shall be liable for the full amount of all expenses incurred by the locality and any volunteer fire company or volunteer emergency medical services agency to fight or extinguish the fire and the reasonable administrative costs expended to collect such expenses. The locality shall remit any costs recovered on behalf of another entity to such entity.

C. The State Forester or a locality may institute an action and recover from either one or both parents of any minor, living with such parents or either of them, the cost of forest fire suppression suffered by reason of the willful or malicious destruction of, or damage to, public or private property by such minor. No more than $750 may be recovered from such parents or either of them as a result of any forest fire incident or occurrence on which such action is based.

Code 1950, §§ 10-58, 10-61; 1964, c. 79; 1986, c. 188; 1988, c. 891; 2008, c. 835; 2015, cc. 502, 503.

§ 10.1-1142. Regulating the burning of woods, brush, etc.; penalties.

A. It shall be unlawful for any owner or lessee of land to set fire to, or to procure another to set fire to, any woods, brush, logs, leaves, grass, debris, or other inflammable material upon such land unless he previously has taken all reasonable care and precaution, by having cut and piled the same or carefully cleared around the same, to prevent the spread of such fire to lands other than those owned or leased by him. It shall also be unlawful for any employee of any such owner or lessee of land to set fire to or to procure another to set fire to any woods, brush, logs, leaves, grass, debris, or other inflammable material, upon such land unless he has taken similar precautions to prevent the spread of such fire to any other land.

B. Except as provided in subsection C, during the period February 15 through April 30 of each year, even though the precautions required by the foregoing subsection have been taken, it shall be unlawful, in any county or city or portion thereof organized for forest fire control under the direction of the State Forester, for any person to set fire to, or to procure another to set fire to, any brush, leaves, grass, debris or field containing dry grass or other inflammable material capable of spreading fire, located in or within 300 feet of any woodland, brushland, or field containing dry grass or other inflammable material, except between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 12:00 midnight.

The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to any fires which may be set to prevent damage to orchards or vineyards by frost or freezing temperatures or be set on federal lands.

C. Subsection B shall not apply to any fire set during the period beginning February 15 through April 30 of each year, if:

1. The fire is set for "prescribed burning" that is conducted in accordance with a "prescription" and managed by a "certified prescribed burn manager" as those terms are defined in § 10.1-1150.1;

2. The burn is conducted in accordance with § 10.1-1150.4;

3. The State Forester has, prior to February 1, approved the prescription for the burn; and

4. The burn is being conducted for one of the following purposes: (i) control of exotic and invasive plant species that cannot be accomplished at other times of the year, (ii) wildlife habitat establishment and maintenance that cannot be accomplished at other times of the year or, (iii) management necessary for natural heritage resources.

The State Forester may on the day of any burn planned to be conducted pursuant to this subsection revoke his approval of the prescription for the burn if hazardous fire conditions exist. The State Forester may revoke the certification of any certified prescribed burn manager who violates any provision of this subsection.

D. Any person who builds a fire in the open air, or uses a fire built by another in the open air, within 150 feet of any woodland, brushland or field containing dry grass or other inflammable material, shall totally extinguish the fire before leaving the area and shall not leave the fire unattended.

E. Any person violating any provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor for each separate offense. If any forest fire originates as a result of the violation by any person of any provision of this section, such person shall, in addition to the above penalty, be liable to the Commonwealth for the full amount of all expenses incurred by the Commonwealth in suppressing such fire. Such amounts shall be recoverable by action brought by the State Forester in the name of the Commonwealth on behalf of the Commonwealth and credited to the Forestry Operations Fund.

Code 1950, §§ 10-62, 10-63; 1964, c. 79; 1986, c. 188; 1988, c. 891; 1996, cc. 74, 1008; 2001, c. 319; 2006, c. 228; 2017, c. 6.

§ 10.1-1143. Throwing inflammable objects from vehicle on highway while in or near certain lands.

It shall be unlawful for any person to throw, toss or drop from a vehicle moving or standing on a highway any lighted smoking material, lighted match, lighted material of any nature, or any bomb or device liable to set fire to inflammable material on the ground while in or near any forestland, brushland or field containing inflammable vegetation or trash.

Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor for each separate offense.

1954, c. 35, § 10-64.1; 1986, c. 188; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1144. Failure to clean premises of certain mills.

Any individual, firm, or corporation responsible for the operation of a saw mill, stave mill, heading mill, or any other mill in, through or near forest or brushland shall clean the premises for at least a distance of fifty yards in all directions from any fires maintained in or about, or in connection with the operation of such mill. The premises shall also be cleaned for a distance of 100 feet in all directions from any sawdust pile, slab pile, or any other inflammable material which accumulates from the operation of such mill, or all matter not essential to the operation of such mill, which is liable to take fire from any sparks emitted from such fires. When any mill is removed or ceases to operate for a period of ten consecutive days, any fire which may be burning in any sawdust pile, slab pile or other debris shall be totally extinguished unless the owner of the land on which such fire is located assumes in writing responsibility for the control of the fire. Any person, firm or corporation violating any of the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. Each day or fraction thereof on which any such mill is operated in violation of the provisions of this section and each day or fraction thereof on which fire is allowed to burn in any sawdust pile, slab pile or other inflammable debris in violation of the provisions of this section, shall be deemed a separate offense.

Whenever it is established that a forest fire originated from a fire maintained in or about any such mill, the individual, firm, or corporation, from whose mill any such fire originated shall immediately become liable for all costs incurred in fighting such fire.

Code 1950, § 10-64; 1986, c. 188; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1145. Failure to properly maintain logging equipment and railroad locomotives.

Logging equipment and railroad locomotives operated in, through, or near forestland, brushland or fields containing dry grass or other inflammable material shall be equipped with appliances and maintained to prevent, as far as may be possible, the escape of fire and sparks from the smokestacks. Any person failing to comply with these requirements shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor for each offense committed.

Code 1950, § 10-65; 1986, c. 188; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1146. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1996, c. 104.

§ 10.1-1147. Removal of inflammable material from lands adjoining right-of-way by railroads.

For the purpose of providing increased protection to forest property from fire originating along railroads, any railroad company shall have the right, subject to the provisions of this section, without liability for trespass to enter upon forest or brushlands for a distance of fifty feet from the railroad right-of-way and to clear from such a strip any inflammable material such as leaves, grass, dead trees, slash and brush, but shall not remove any valuable timber growth or other things of value without consent of and recompense to the owner. Not less than fifteen days prior to clearing such land, the railroad company shall give the owner notice of its intention, together with a transcript of this section, by letter deposited in the United States mail to his last known address. If the owner does not file objections to such clearings with the State Corporation Commission within ten days of the date of such notice he shall be deemed to have given consent. Upon the filing by an owner of such objection showing cause why such clearing should not be done the State Corporation Commission shall review the case and may sustain the objection of the owner or permit the clearing in whole or in part.

The State Corporation Commission may require assistance of the State Forester in furnishing information pertinent to the administration of this section.

The provisions of this section shall not apply to temporary tram roads used for hauling logs and lumber.

Code 1950, § 10-66; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1148. Fires caused by violation of provisions of article; liability to Commonwealth.

Individuals and corporations causing fires by violation of any provision of this article shall be liable to the Commonwealth for (i) all damages the Commonwealth sustained by such fire or fires, and (ii) the full amount of all expenses incurred by the Commonwealth, in fighting or extinguishing such fire.

Code 1950, § 10-67; 1964, c. 79; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1149. Southeastern Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact.

§ 1. The Governor is hereby authorized to execute, on behalf of the Commonwealth of Virginia, a compact with any one or more of the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia, which compact shall be in form substantially as follows:

SOUTHEASTERN INTERSTATE FOREST FIRE PROTECTION COMPACT.

ARTICLE I.
The purpose of this compact is to promote effective prevention and control of forest fires in the Southeastern region of the United States by the development of integrated forest fire plans, by the maintenance of adequate forest fire fighting services by the member states, by providing for mutual aid in fighting forest fires among the compacting states of the region and with states which are party to other Regional Forest Fire Protection compacts or agreements, and for more adequate forest protection.

ARTICLE II.
This compact shall become operative immediately as to those states ratifying it whenever any two or more of the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, which are contiguous have ratified it and Congress has given consent thereto. Any state not mentioned in this article which is contiguous with any member state may become a party to this compact, subject to approval by the legislature of each of the member states.

ARTICLE III.
In each state, the state forester or officer holding the equivalent position who is responsible for forest fire control shall act as compact administrator for that state and shall consult with like officials of the other member states and shall implement cooperation between such states in forest fire prevention and control.

The compact administrators of the member states shall coordinate the services of the member states and provide administrative integration in carrying out the purposes of this compact.

There shall be established an advisory committee of legislators, forestry commission representatives, and forestry or forest products industries representatives which shall meet from time to time with the compact administrators. Each member state shall name one member of the Senate and one member of the House of Representatives who shall be designated by that state's commission on interstate cooperation, or if said commission cannot constitutionally designate the said members, they shall be designated in accordance with laws of that state; and the Governor of each member state shall appoint two representatives, one of whom shall be associated with forestry or forest products industries to comprise the membership of the advisory committee. Action shall be taken by a majority of the compacting states, and each state shall be entitled to one vote.

The compact administrators shall formulate and, in accordance with need, from time to time, revise a regional forest fire plan for the member states.

It shall be the duty of each member state to formulate and put in effect a forest fire plan for that state and take such measures as may be necessary to integrate such forest fire plan with the regional forest fire plan formulated by the compact administrators.

ARTICLE IV.
Whenever the state forest fire control agency of a member state requests aid from the state forest fire control agency of any other member state in combating, controlling or preventing forest fires, it shall be the duty of the state forest fire control agency of that state to render all possible aid to the requesting agency which is consonant with the maintenance of protection at home.

ARTICLE V.
Whenever the forces of any member state are rendering outside aid pursuant to the request of another member state under this compact, the employees of such state shall, under the direction of the officers of the state to which they are rendering aid, have the same powers (except the power of arrest), duties, rights, privileges and immunities as comparable employees of the state to which they are rendering aid.

No member state or its officers or employees rendering outside aid pursuant to this compact shall be liable on account of any act or omission on the part of such forces while so engaged, or on account of the maintenance, or use of any equipment or supplies in connection therewith; Provided, that nothing herein shall be construed as relieving any person from liability for his own negligent act or omission, or as imposing liability for such negligent act or omission upon any state.

All liability, except as otherwise provided hereinafter, that may arise either under the laws of the requesting state or under the laws of the aiding state or under the laws of a third state on account of or in connection with a request for aid, shall be assumed and borne by the requesting state.

Any member state rendering outside aid pursuant to this compact shall be reimbursed by the member state receiving such aid for any loss or damage to, or expense incurred in the operation of any equipment answering a request for aid, and for the cost of all materials, transportation, wages, salaries, and subsistence of employees and maintenance of equipment incurred in connection with such request: Provided, that nothing herein contained shall prevent any assisting member state from assuming such loss, damage, expense or other cost or from loaning such equipment or from donating such service to the receiving member state without charge or cost.

Each member state shall provide for the payment of compensation and death benefits to injured employees and the representatives of deceased employees in case employees sustain injuries or are killed while rendering outside aid pursuant to this compact, in the same manner and on the same terms as if the injury or death were sustained within such state.

For the purposes of this compact the term employee shall include any volunteer or auxiliary legally included within the forest fire fighting forces of the aiding state under the laws thereof.

The compact administrators shall formulate procedures for claims and reimbursement under the provisions of this article, in accordance with the laws of the member states.

ARTICLE VI.
Ratification of this compact shall not be construed to affect any existing statute so as to authorize or permit curtailment or diminution of the forest fire fighting forces, equipment, services or facilities of any member state.

Nothing in this compact shall be construed to limit or restrict the powers of any state ratifying the same to provide for the prevention, control and extinguishment of forest fires, or to prohibit the enactment or enforcement of state laws, rules or regulations intended to aid in such prevention, control and extinguishment in such state.

Nothing in this compact shall be construed to affect any existing or future cooperative relationship or arrangement between any federal agency and a member state or states.

ARTICLE VII.
The compact administrators may request the United States Forest Service to act as a research and coordinating agency of the Southeastern Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact in cooperation with the appropriate agencies in each state, and the United States Forest Service may accept responsibility for preparing and presenting to the compact administrators its recommendations with respect to the regional fire plan. Representatives of any federal agency engaged in forest fire prevention and control may attend meetings of the compact administrators.

ARTICLE VIII.
The provisions of Articles IV and V of this compact which relate to mutual aid in combating, controlling or preventing forest fires shall be operative as between any state party to this compact and any other state which is party to a regional forest fire protection compact in another region: Provided, that the legislature of such other state shall have given its assent to such mutual aid provisions of this compact.

ARTICLE IX.
This compact shall continue in force and remain binding on each state ratifying it until the legislature or the Governor of such state, as the laws of such state shall provide, takes action to withdraw therefrom. Such action shall not be effective until six months after notice thereof has been sent by the chief executive of the state desiring to withdraw to the chief executives of all states then parties to the compact.

§ 2. When the Governor shall have executed said compact on behalf of the Commonwealth of Virginia and shall have caused a verified copy thereof to have been filed with the Secretary of the Commonwealth, and when said compact also shall have been ratified by one or more of the states named in § 1 of this act, then said compact shall become operative and effective as between this State and such other state or states; and the Governor is hereby authorized and directed to take such action as may be necessary to complete the exchange of official documents between this State and any other state ratifying said compact.

§ 3. Pursuant to the provisions of Article III of said compact, the State Forester, under the general direction of the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, shall act as Compact Administrator for the Commonwealth of Virginia of the compact set forth in § 1 of this act.

§ 4. The State Forester, under the general direction of the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, as Compact Administrator, shall be vested with all powers provided for in said compact and all powers necessary and incidental to the carrying out of said compact in every particular.

§ 5. If any provision of this act or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the act which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this act are declared to be severable.

§ 6. This act shall become effective the first day of July 1956.

1956, c. 63, § 27-5.2; 1988, c. 891; 2016, c. 566.

§ 10.1-1150. Middle Atlantic Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact.

§ 1. The Governor is hereby authorized to execute, on behalf of the Commonwealth of Virginia, a compact with any one or more of the states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia which compact shall be in substantially the following form:

MIDDLE ATLANTIC INTERSTATE FOREST FIRE PROTECTION COMPACT

ARTICLE I.
The purpose of this compact is to promote effective prevention and control of forest fires in the Middle Atlantic region of the United States by the development of integrated forest fire plans, by the maintenance of adequate forest fire fighting services by the member states, and by providing for mutual aid in fighting forest fires among the compacting states of the region and with states which are party to other regional forest fire protection compacts or agreements.

ARTICLE II.
This compact shall become operative immediately as to those states ratifying it whenever any two or more of the states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia which are contiguous have ratified it and Congress has given consent thereto.

ARTICLE III.
In each state, the state forester or officer holding the equivalent position who is responsible for forest fire control shall act as compact administrator for that state and shall consult with like officials of the other member states and shall implement cooperation between such states in forest fire prevention and control.

The compact administrators of the member states shall organize to coordinate the services of the member states and provide administrative integration in carrying out the purposes of this compact.

The compact administrators shall formulate and, in accordance with need, from time to time, revise a regional forest fire plan for the member states.

It shall be the duty of each member state to formulate and put in effect a forest fire plan for that state and take such measures as may be necessary to integrate such forest fire plan with the regional forest fire plan formulated by the compact administrators.

ARTICLE IV.
Whenever the state forest fire control agency of a member state requests aid from the state forest fire control agency of any other member state in combating, controlling or preventing forest fires, it shall be the duty of the state forest fire control agency of that state to render all possible aid to the requesting agency which is consonant with the maintenance of protection at home.

ARTICLE V.
Whenever the forces of any member state are rendering outside aid pursuant to the request of another member state under this compact, the employees of such state shall, under the direction of the officers of the state to which they are rendering aid, have the same powers (except the power of arrest), duties, rights, privileges and immunities as comparable employees of the state to which they are rendering aid.

No member state or its officers or employees rendering outside aid pursuant to this compact shall be liable on account of any act or omission on the part of such forces while so engaged, or on account of the maintenance or use of any equipment or supplies in connection therewith.

All liability, except as otherwise provided hereinafter, that may arise either under the laws of the requesting state or under the laws of the aiding state or under the laws of a third state on account of or in connection with a request for aid, shall be assumed and borne by the requesting state.

Any member state rendering outside aid pursuant to this compact shall be reimbursed by the member state receiving such aid for any loss or damage to, or expense incurred in the operation of any equipment answering a request for aid, and for the cost of all materials, transportation, wages, salaries, and maintenance of employees and equipment incurred in connection with such request: provided, that nothing herein contained shall prevent any assisting member state from assuming such loss, damage, expense or other cost or from loaning such equipment or from donating such services to the receiving member state without charge or cost.

Each member state shall provide for the payment of compensation and death benefits to injured employees and the representatives of deceased employees in case employees sustain injuries or are killed while rendering outside aid pursuant to this compact, in the same manner and on the same terms as if the injury or death were sustained within such state.

For the purposes of this compact, the term "employee" shall include any volunteer or auxiliary legally included within the forest fire fighting forces of the aiding state under the laws thereof.

The compact administrators shall formulate procedures for claims and reimbursement under the provisions of this article, in accordance with the laws of the member states.

ARTICLE VI.
Nothing in this compact shall be construed to authorize or permit any member state to curtail or diminish its forest fire fighting forces, equipment, services or facilities, and it shall be the duty and responsibility of each member state to maintain adequate forest fire fighting forces and equipment to meet demands for forest fire protection within its borders in the same manner and to the same extent as if this compact were not operative.

Nothing in this compact shall be construed to limit or restrict the powers of any state ratifying the same to provide for the prevention, control and extinguishment of forest fires, or to prohibit the enactment or enforcement of state laws, rules or regulations intended to aid in such prevention, control and extinguishment in such state.

Nothing in this compact shall be construed to affect any existing or future cooperative relationship or arrangement between the United States Forest Service and a member state or states.

ARTICLE VII.
The compact administrators may request the United States Forest Service to act as the primary research and coordinating agency of the Middle Atlantic Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact in cooperation with the appropriate agencies in each state, and the United States Forest Service may accept the initial responsibility in preparing and presenting to the compact administrators its recommendations with respect to the regional fire plan. Representatives of the United States Forest Service may attend meetings of the compact administrators.

ARTICLE VIII.
The provisions of Articles IV and V of this compact which relate to mutual aid in combating, controlling or preventing forest fires shall be operative as between any state party to this compact and any other state which is party to a regional forest fire protection compact in another region, provided that the legislature of such other state shall have given its assent to such mutual aid provisions of this compact.

ARTICLE IX.
This compact shall continue in force and remain binding on each state ratifying it until the legislature or the governor of such state takes action to withdraw therefrom. Such action shall not be effective until six months after notice thereof has been sent by the chief executive of the state desiring to withdraw to the chief executives of all states then parties to the compact.

§ 2. The right to alter, amend, or repeal this Act is expressly reserved.

1966, c. 6, § 27-5.4; 1988, c. 891; 2016, c. 566.

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