GULF SHORES, Ala. (WKRG)– The City of Gulf Shores has strict rules when it come to trees. To enforce those rules, the city recently hired its first arborist.

Among Joel Potter’s duties is telling residents which trees they can cut down and which ones are off limits. Many trees are considered “protected” under a city ordinance implemented last year.

“It’s pretty much any tree that if it’s a live oak, anything that is over 6 inch in diameter, so I’m gonna say something like that and then any other tree that’s over 12 inch in diameter which will be about that or so,” Potter said.

There are some exceptions, mainly when it comes to safety. Potter explains what he looks out for before making a decision.

“Hazard, what is the likelihood of failure of the tree would be my first approach, because safety is always the first thing. So I’m looking for outward signs of decay, failure from past storm damage, that the tree hasn’t reacted to well, root damage, things like that are the first things I am looking for,” Potter said.

If you are looking to cut down a tree, you must get a permit. Otherwise, you can be fined up to $10,000. Residents can apply for those permits online.

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