Alabama Forestry Commission hopes to have new state forester in place by Jan. 14 after first woman to hold position submits resignation, effective Jan. 1, after seven years; chairman says she achieved 'an awful lot'

MONTGOMERY, Alabama , November 6, 2013 () – Alabama looking for new state forester after first woman in the job resigns

Alabama is looking for a new state forester.

The first woman to hold the job, Linda Casey, has submitted her resignation to the Alabama Forestry Commission, effective Jan. 1.

Commission Chairman Tommy Thompson said Tuesday the commission is taking applications and plans to review them at a meeting Nov. 27 in Montgomery. He said the commission would like to have a new state forester in place by the time the Legislature convenes Jan. 14 to start working on a new state budget. The commission's selection is subject to review by the governor, he said.

The commission hired Casey in November 2007 after she had a long career with International Paper. "She accomplished an awful lot in seven years," Thompson said.

But he said she appeared ready for a break after guiding the agency through challenging budget times for all of state government and after wrangling with the U.S. Forest Service over accounting for federal grants.

The commission's appropriation from the state General Fund budget was $15.2 million the year Casey was hired and is $9.1 million for this fiscal year. Last year, the U.S. Forest Service wanted the Forestry Commission to return $5.1 million from federal grants stretching as far back as 2007, but Casey told the commission last month that had been whittled down to about $800,000.

Casey did not return a phone call and email seeking comment. Her position pays $134,974 annually.

The Forestry Commission is an appointed board that oversees a staff that protects Alabama's forests against threats ranging from wildfires to insets and helps landowners with forest management.

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