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November 05, 2009   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
November 05, 2009

Alabama Farmers Federation State Forestry Committee Chairman John Rudd of Russell County discusses his testimony for the Alabama Forestry Commission public hearing held Tuesday in Montgomery with Federation Forestry Division Director Steve Guy, left, and State Forester Linda Casey. Rudd testified in support of the intent of new timber theft regulations proposed by the Forestry Commission.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The Alabama Farmers Federation State Forestry Committee met Tuesday morning in Montgomery where it voted to support the intent of new forestry theft regulations proposed by the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC).

The commission, which is a state agency, held a public hearing later that day to gather input about the proposed regulations. In all, the commission has proposed five regulations addressing timber theft.

The proposed regulations will address shortfalls in current timber-theft regulations and provide enhanced protection for landowners, as well as those involved in harvesting and purchasing of forest products, said Alabama Forestry Commission State Forester Linda Casey.

The proposed regulations establish investigative authority for commission employees, address property line identification issues, provide for prompt payment to landowners for harvested timber, establish record keeping procedures at the logging site and provide AFC with an avenue to prosecute those who intentionally provide false or misleading information on documents necessary to investigate fires and timber thefts.

Federation State Forestry Committee Chairman John Rudd testified in support of the proposals at the Forestry Commission hearing.

"When faced with a timber theft problem on their property landowners are many times told their only recourse is to take the thief to civil court," Rudd said. "Forest landowners should not have to spend more money out of their own pockets to bring a thief to trial. In some cases, the cost to hire a lawyer is more than the timber is worth so the thief walks away scot-free."

Casey said the regulations wouldn't add additional burdens to those already following current laws. However, it will affect those who intentionally violate the law or impede AFC law enforcement investigations, she added.

Federation Forestry Division Director Steve Guy said the commission would evaluate the testimony from Tuesday's hearing and reconvene in 90 days for final consideration.

If finalized, the commission will submit the proposed regulations to the Alabama Legislative Council, which consists of senators and representative who review regulations for final adoption.

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