By: Kolkhorst S.B. No. 2485
  relating to the establishment, administration, and use of the land
  and water conservation fund.
         SECTION 1.  Chapter 31, Natural Resources Code, is amended
  by adding Subchapter F to read as follows:
         Sec. 31.201.  DEFINITIONS. In this subchapter:
               (1)  "Advisory committee" means the land and water
  technical advisory committee.
               (2)  "Agricultural conservation easement" has the
  meaning assigned by Section 84.002, Parks and Wildlife Code.
               (3)  "Conservation board" means the land and water
  conservation board.
               (4)  "Conservation easement" has the meaning assigned
  by Section 183.001, Natural Resources Code.
               (5)  "Fund" means the land and water conservation fund.
               (6)  "Nature-based project" means a project or practice
  that uses protected, restored, or constructed natural features or
  an engineered project or practice that mimics natural processes.
               (7)  "Public access" means a land or water area for
  human use and enjoyment that is relatively free of man-made
  structures and includes land and water parks owned or operated by
  the state or a political subdivision.
         Sec. 31.202.  LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION BOARD. (a)  The
  land and water conservation board is composed of five members as
               (1)  the commissioner or the commissioner's designee;
               (2)  the executive director of the Texas Commission on
  Environmental Quality or the executive director's designee;
               (3)  the executive director of the Parks and Wildlife
  Department or the executive director's designee;
               (4)  the executive administrator of the Texas Water
  Development Board or the executive administrator's designee; and
               (5)  the chair of the advisory committee established by
  Section 31.209 or the chair's designee.
         (b)  The commissioner or the commissioner's designee is the
  chair of the conservation board.
         (c)  The conservation board may appoint to the conservation
  board not more than two nonvoting members with professional or
  academic experience in a field related to the conservation board's
  duties. A member appointed under this section may serve for a term
  of not more than two years.
         Sec. 31.203.  LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION FUND. (a)  The
  land and water conservation fund is created as a special fund in the
  state treasury outside the general revenue fund.
         (b)  The fund may be used:
               (1)  without further legislative appropriation; and
               (2)  only as provided by this subchapter.
         (c)  The fund consists of:
               (1)  money transferred to the fund in accordance with
  Sections 49-g(c) and (c-1), Article III, Texas Constitution;
               (2)  money appropriated to the fund by law;
               (3)  the proceeds of fees or other sources of revenue
  dedicated by law for deposit to the fund;
               (4)  interest and other earnings on the investment of
  money in the fund;
               (5)  gifts, grants, or donations to the fund; and
               (6)  money from other sources designated by the
  conservation board for deposit to the fund as authorized by law.
         (d)  The conservation board may use the fund only to:
               (1)  award a grant to an entity for a conservation,
  restoration, or public access project as provided by Section
               (2)  award a grant to provide matching funds to an
  entity to participate in a federal program for a conservation,
  restoration, or public access project as provided by Section
  31.204; and
               (3)  pay the necessary and reasonable expenses to
  administer the fund, not to exceed three percent of money disbursed
  from the fund in any given year.
  GRANT; PRIORITY. (a)  Projects eligible for a grant awarded from
  the fund include:
               (1)  a public parks or natural areas project that
  benefits, protects, or enhances the local park grant program
  administered by the Parks and Wildlife Department, a private or
  public local park, a recreation trail or trail easement, or public
  access in general; and
               (2)  a natural resource conservation project that
  benefits, protects, or enhances:
                     (A)  farm, ranch, and forest land, including:
                           (i)  by creating an agricultural
  conservation easement;
                           (ii)  by creating a conservation easement;
                           (iii)  by conserving forest lands; and
                           (iv)  through a project related to the Texas
  Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Program under Chapter 84, Parks
  and Wildlife Code;
                     (B)  wildlife or a wildlife habitat, including
  acquisition of a land or conservation easement for protection of a
  wetland or wildlife habitat; and
                     (C)  a nature-based project that uses water
  resources for water quality and quantity, including:
                           (i)  aquifer recharge area protection;
                           (ii)  acquisition of land or conservation
  easements for protection and enhancement of a water resource; and
                           (iii)  dedication for 10 years or more of a
  water right or permit allocation to maintain or improve instream
  flows, spring flows, and bay and estuary inflows;
                     (D)  a restoration project that:
                           (i)  improves water quality, prevents soil
  erosion, reduces loss of wildlife habitat, or restores native
  grassland on agricultural land;
                           (ii)  restores critical wildlife habitat,
  maintains or enhances fish or wildlife habitat, or restores a
  wetland; and
                           (iii)  enhances spring flow, restores a
  stream, river, or riparian area, improves habitat, or improves
  water quality.
         (b)  The conservation board may award a grant under this
  chapter only to a district or authority created under Section 52,
  Article III, or Section 59, Article XVI, Texas Constitution, a
  municipality, a county, a state agency, or a nongovernmental
         (c)  The conservation board by rule shall establish criteria
  for setting priorities for the projects eligible to receive grants
  under this subchapter. The criteria must include:
               (1)  the project's use of matching funds;
               (2)  the potential to maximize benefits in multiple
  eligible project areas;
               (3)  the long-term sustainability and benefits of the
               (4)  coordination and integration with other relevant
  projects necessary for the success of the project;
               (5)  regional and eco-regional diversity of the
  project; and
               (6)  the overall ecological benefit of the project.
  conservation board shall establish a grant program to provide
  financial assistance to eligible entities for conservation
  planning, application preparation, and administrative costs
  associated with eligible projects described by Section 31.204.
         (b)  The conservation board shall provide guidance to
  applicants for projects that are eligible under more than one
  funding category.
  (a)  The conservation board shall implement an application process
  to select eligible projects in accordance with the priority
  criteria established under Section 31.204(b).
         (b)  If the conservation board receives a sufficient number
  of applications for eligible projects, the conservation board shall
               (1)  not less than 80 percent of the funding in any
  cycle to public parks and natural area projects as described by
  Section 31.204(a)(1); and
               (2)  not more than 20 percent of the funding in any
  cycle to natural resource conservation projects as described by
  Section 31.204(a)(2).
         Sec. 31.207.  APPROVAL OF APPLICATIONS. The conservation
  board may approve an application only if the conservation board
  finds that:
               (1)  the application and the assistance applied for
  meet the requirements of this subchapter and rules adopted under
  this subchapter; and
               (2)  the applicant demonstrates the ability to complete
  the project.
         Sec. 31.208.  RULES. The conservation board shall adopt
  rules necessary to implement this subchapter, including rules that
  establish procedures for:
               (1)  the administration of the fund; and
               (2)  an application for a project grant from the fund.
  COMMITTEE. (a)  The land and water conservation technical advisory
  committee is composed of the following nine members:
               (1)  one representative from each state agency
  specified by Sections 31.202(a)(1)-(4);
               (2)  three representatives appointed by the
  conservation board from nongovernmental entities who have relevant
  experience; and
               (3)  two representatives appointed by the conservation
  board from institutions of higher education who have relevant
  professional experience.
         (b)  The advisory committee shall assist in developing and
               (1)  the application process and scoring criteria for
  project funding by the conservation board;
               (2)  recommendations to the conservation board; and
               (3)  other items as directed by the conservation board.
         Sec. 31.210.  MONITORING AND REPORTING. (a)  Not later than
  September 1 of every second year, the conservation board shall
  prepare and submit to the legislature a report quantifying the
  benefits of projects that have received grants under this
         (b)  The conservation board may use money from the fund to
  prepare the report required by this section.
         SECTION 2.  The land and water conservation board shall
  submit to the legislature the initial report required by Section
  31.210, Natural Resources Code, as added by this Act, not later than
  September 1, 2027.
         SECTION 3.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2023.