Law Enforcement

HOTLINE: 1-800-GA-TREES (428-7337) or:

In 1925, the Georgia General Assembly provided for the Georgia Forestry Commission to hire deputy Forest Wardens with arrest authority, to enforce the fire laws of the state. In 1952, the law was amended, referring these law enforcement officers to their current title of Forestry Investigator. Several changes to the law have occurred in the last 100 years, but the primary responsibility of these investigators remained to enforce the fire laws. Until the most recent change to the law in 2014 that authorized forestry investigators to enforce any law relating to the protection, security, conservation, or sale of forest/timber resources.

GFC Forestry Investigators are certified by the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council, with full arrest and enforcement authority in the state of Georgia. In addition, they are specially trained to conduct investigations of wildland fires and other forestry related crimes. View Georgia's forestry laws.


Arson is the third leading cause of wildfires in Georgia. To combat Georgia's arson problem and enforce Georgia's forestry burn permit laws, Georgia Forestry Commission employs law enforcement investigators. The investigators have extensive, specialized training in law enforcement and fire investigation. The Law Enforcement Department is headquartered at Georgia Forestry Commission's central office in Dry Branch, Georgia, located south of Macon.

Arson EvidenceArson in the Third Degree
Prison sentence of 1 - 5 years
Arson in the Second Degree (> 5 acres burned)
Maximum prison sentence of 10 years and fines
Arson in the First Degree (human life endangered)
Maximum prison sentence of 20 years and fines

Over the last five years, Georgia Forestry Commission Rangers have responded, on average, to 324 arson fires per year which burn more than 3,400 acres.

Timber Security

In 2014, GFC Investigators were authorized by House Bill 790 to enforce laws related to the protection, security, conservation, and sale of forest resources. GFC receives and evaluates complaints concerning timber transactions. Investigators are assigned to complaints where criminal activity is suspected. The priority will always be to protect our landowners and their forest resources by ensuring that credible timber harvest operations occur.

Timber Security Law Factsheet

For information on marketing and selling your timber, including contracts, please visit our Timber Selling page.