increased by this inflammable debris. Small fires starting on the right-of-way also spread quickly to this debris, so that bad fires result before the patrolmen or section crews can reach the scene. If the inflammable matter could be disposed of, by burning, at a safe time, a strip of 50 to 100 feet in width outside the right-of-way, the situation would be tremendously improved, since fewer fires would start, and there would be a much better chance to reach these before they got beyond control.
There is a provision in the Forest Act of British Columbia (Sec 123) which provides that the Minister of Lands or the Provincial Forest Board shall have the power to declare any inflammable material which endangers life or property a public nuisance, and to require the land owner or occupier, or the operator, to dispose of same.
Another section (124) provides that, when the safety of any forest, or woodland, or cut timber is endangered by the debris caused by any lumbering or other industrial operations, the Minister or the Forest Board may require the person or corporation conducting such operations, or the owner or occupier of the land on which such debris exists, to cut down dead debris or stubs within such area, and to establish a safe fire line around the area or areas covered by such debris; said fire line to be cleared of inflammable material, and to be of a width and character satisfactory to the Minister or to the Provincial Forest Board.
However, advantage has not been generally taken of these pro-visions to require a clean-up of slashings on old cuttings, along rail-way lines, where the hazard to settlements is not severe. The cost of carrying out such work is necessarily a serious obstacle to its rapid and general completion. On the other hand, a small beginning has been made in some places, by the Forest Branch, in persuading land owners to voluntarily clean up dangerous slashings along railway lines. The existence, in the Forest Act, of the provisions above referred to, has undoubtedly aided materially in enabling the Forest Branch to secure such co-operation. The voluntary action of the timber land owners alone will not, however, prove adequate in securing the handling of this problem generally, in British Columbia or elsewhere. The situation in British Columbia will no doubt steadily improve, through gradual application of the strong provisions of the Forest Act.
In all the provinces of Eastern Canada this situation is very much less satisfactory than in British Columbia, since, so far as known, there is no legislation applicable, nor, with few exceptions, do any material results appear to have been accomplished, by co-operation between the agencies concerned. In many sections, the lands adjacent