Former Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) employee Gary M. Cole of Excel has recently been appointed as Interim State Forester by Governor Robert Bentley. He will serve in this position until a new State Forester is selected. During his previous 38-year career with the AFC, Cole served in various positions including Southwest Regional Forester and Forest Management Division Director before retiring in 2014.
Cole began his career as a Forest Ranger I in Monroe County. Over the years he held positions throughout the Ranger class and later the Forester class. As one of about nine AFC employees, he piloted a co-op program that sent Commission personnel back to school to earn degrees in forestry. Cole earned his Bachelor of Science in Forest Management at Auburn University in 1985 and is a licensed registered forester in the state of Alabama.
“It is an extreme honor to return to this outstanding agency that means so much to me. I am not sure how long my tenure will be, but I am dedicated to helping the AFC as much as I can,” said Cole. “Our state is in the midst of a wildfire situation at this time and I fully understand what it takes from our wildland firefighters to protect the lives and property of our citizens. I am proud to serve with these dedicated employees who often put their lives on the line for others.”
The Alabama Forestry Commission is a state agency committed to protecting Alabama citizens and the state’s invaluable forest assets from wildfires; sustaining Alabama’s forest resources using professionally applied stewardship principals and education; as well as ensuring that the state’s forests contribute to abundant timber and wildlife, clean air and water, and a healthy economy. To learn more about the AFC, visit www.forestry.alabama.gov.