Ala. forester calls new regulations "ironic"

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama State Forester Linda Casey says she finds it ironic that as a large portion of the state recovers from the April tornadoes, new federal regulations could cause significant impact when it comes to rebuilding and re-establishing forest lands.

"Here at the Alabama Forestry Commission, we're emphasizing recovery efforts and how the planting of trees can bring beauty, healing, and hope following such a horrific event," Casey said.

But new federal regulations could send the state's cost for reforestation higher than a Georgia Pine. Casey says The Department of Labor's regulations changed their methods for calculating the wages of "guest workers". That means cost increases anywhere from 26 to 104 percent.

Here are cost figures for Alabama and other states, provided by the Alabama Forestry Commission.

Alabama $10.40 $13.06 26% $21.16 104%
Arkansas 10.16 13.08 23% 16.32 61%
Louisiana 9.60 16.31 70% 16.31  70%
Mississippi 9.52 14.46 52% 17.66 86%
North Carolina 7.63 16.38 123% 16.96 129%
South Carolina 9.24 11.96 29% ---- ----
Tennessee 9.85 10.42 6% 12.09 23%
Texas 9.90 12.64 28% 13.54 37%

Casey says these large increases "could not only result in landowners postponing reforestation due to unanticipated cost increases, but forestry service providers going out of business as well."

The effective date for the wage increases will be October 1, 2011.  

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