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The Florida Statutes

The 2021 Florida Statutes

Title XXXV
AGRICULTURE, HORTICULTURE, AND ANIMAL INDUSTRY
Chapter 589
FORESTRY
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F.S. 589.19
589.19 Creation of certain state forests; naming of certain state forests; Operation Outdoor Freedom Program.
(1) When the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, any state agency, or any agency created by state law, authorized to accept reforestation lands in the name of the state, approves the recommendations of the Florida Forest Service in reference to the acquisition of land and acquires such land, the board, state agency, or agency created by state law may formally designate and dedicate any area as a reforestation project, or state forest, and where so designated and dedicated such area shall be under the administration of the Florida Forest Service, which is authorized to manage and administer such area according to the purpose for which it was designated and dedicated.
(2) The first state forest acquired by the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund in Baker County is to be named the John M. Bethea State Forest. This is to honor Mr. John M. Bethea who was Florida’s fourth state forester and whose distinguished career in state government spanned 46 years and who is a native of Baker County.
(3) The state forest managed by the Florida Forest Service in Seminole County is to be named the Charles H. Bronson State Forest to honor Charles H. Bronson, the tenth Commissioner of Agriculture, for his distinguished contribution to this state’s agriculture and natural resources.
(4)(a) To honor the nation’s disabled veterans and injured active duty servicemembers, the Florida Forest Service shall coordinate efforts to develop an Operation Outdoor Freedom Program to provide hunting and other activities for eligible veterans and servicemembers in designated state forest areas and on designated public and private lands. The Legislature finds it to be in the public interest for the Florida Forest Service to develop partnerships with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and other public and private organizations in order to provide the needed resources and funding to make the program successful.
(b) Participation in the Operation Outdoor Freedom Program shall be limited to Florida residents, as defined in s. 379.101(30)(b), who:
1. Are honorably discharged military veterans certified by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or its predecessor or by any branch of the United States Armed Forces to be at least 30 percent permanently service-connected disabled;
2. Have been awarded the Military Order of the Purple Heart; or
3. Are active duty servicemembers with a service-connected injury as determined by his or her branch of the United States Armed Forces.

Proof of eligibility under this subsection, as prescribed by the Florida Forest Service, may be required.

(c) Notwithstanding the eligibility requirements for program participation in paragraph (b), guided or unguided invitation-only activities may be conducted as part of the Operation Outdoor Freedom Program for injured or disabled veterans and injured or disabled active duty servicemembers of any branch of the United States Armed Forces in designated state forest areas and on designated public and private lands. The Florida Forest Service may grant admittance to designated areas and lands to a person who is not an eligible veteran or servicemember for the sole purpose of accompanying an eligible veteran or servicemember who requires the person’s assistance to use such areas and lands.
(d) The Florida Forest Service may cooperate with state and federal agencies, local governments, private landowners, and other entities in connection with the Operation Outdoor Freedom Program. Donations to the Operation Outdoor Freedom Program shall be deposited into the account of the Friends of Florida State Forests Program created under s. 589.012 and used for Operation Outdoor Freedom Program activities.
(e)1. A private landowner who provides land for designation and use as an Operation Outdoor Freedom Program hunting site shall have limited liability pursuant to s. 375.251.
2. A private landowner who consents to the designation and use of land as part of the Operation Outdoor Freedom Program without compensation shall be considered a volunteer, as defined in s. 110.501, and shall be covered by state liability protection pursuant to s. 768.28, including s. 768.28(9).
3. This subsection does not:
a. Relieve any person of liability that would otherwise exist for deliberate, willful, or malicious injury to persons or property.
b. Create or increase the liability of any person.
(f) The Legislature shall designate the second Saturday of each November as Operation Outdoor Freedom Day.
(g) The Florida Forest Service may adopt rules to administer this subsection.
History.s. 2, ch. 16030, 1933; CGL 1936 Supp. 4151(10-b); s. 2, ch. 61-119; ss. 14, 27, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 35, ch. 2001-279; s. 33, ch. 2008-256; s. 1, ch. 2011-116; s. 42, ch. 2012-7; s. 43, ch. 2012-190; s. 21, ch. 2013-226.