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Forest Management and the H2B Guest Worker Program in the Southeastern United States: An Assessment of Contractors and Their Crews

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Tree-planting jobs in the southeastern United States are almost exclusively held by workers from Mexico and Central America. Most of these workers are in the H2B guest worker program, a program designed to assist nonagricultural industries facing labor shortages. Based on a survey and interviews with forest contractors, we found that H2B workers have become the most common workers in forest management and are favored by contractors competing for large-acreage contracts as well as contractors specializing in government and industry contracts. We discuss the advantages of H2B workers, as well as problems in the program from the workers' perspective in wages and working conditions. The policy implications of a potential expansion of guest worker programs are also discussed.
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Keywords: H2B; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; guest workers; immigration policy; natural resource management; natural resources; tree planting

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: 1: Assistant Professor School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Auburn University 108 M. White Smith Hall Auburn AL 36849, Email: 2: Research Assistant Rural Sociology–College of Agriculture Auburn University Auburn AL 36849, Email:

Publication date: 2005-04-01

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.

    2016 Impact Factor: 1.675 (Rank 20/64 in forestry)

    Average time from submission to first decision: 39.6 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Forest Science
    Other SAF Publications
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