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116   COMMISSION OF CONSERVATION

the woods of only a very small proportion of the stand, and to the methods of logging, the amount of slash remaining after logging is excessive. Generally, also, the timber remaining after logging is without further value, and, since the slash effectually prevents the growth of a valuable second crop, slash must be removed first if the land is to be utilized in producing another crop of timber.

I need not point out that by far the greater portion of the land in British Columbia is, owing to its roughness and lack of soil, unsuited for agriculture, and the only possible way it can be made a steady source of wealth is by the growing of timber. Besides its effect in preventing the production of a second crop of timber, slash is universally recognized as the most serious of all fire hazards, and that it is only a question of time before every slash-area will be set on fire. This being the case, the evident thing to do is to burn the slash at such a time and under such conditions as will, so far as is humanly possible to determine, render it certain that the fire does not spread to adjoining timber.

The Forest Act of British Columbia does not make the burning of slash compulsory, although in the States of Oregon and Washing-ton, where the conditions are identical. such laws are in effect. The Forest Act does, however, empower the Minister of Lands or the Forest Board to require owners to construct a safe fire-break about any area of slash, and where necessary to protect valuable timber, this provision of the Act will be enforced.

To be at all safe or effective against July or August fires. fire-breaks must consist of a strip, five to ten feet wide, cleared to mineral earth, and a strip ten to thirty feet wide cleared of brush, inside which all dead snags standing within a distance of 100 feet must be felled.

As long as the slash remains, however, the danger from fire is serious, and it is felt that it would be far better to burn the slash itself than to construct such fire-breaks, the cost of which is as much or more than that of slash-burning.

A number of loggers in British Columbia have already adopted the practice of burning their slash every year, either in the spring or in the fall, and I hope that you will decide to apply the plan to your operations and take up the matter immediately with your superintendent. The present spring is backward, and, except in high winds, slash burning may be safely carried on until the first or second week in June. During April no permit to burn is required, and after May 1, permits can be obtained from the local forest officers. While it is impossible to specify the conditions as to weather when burning can be safely done, or the methods by which the burning can be most effectively accomplished, these matters being best determined by your superintendent, the following general rules may be of assistance:

  1. Always construct a trail or a light fire-break around the slashed area before starting fires. This will serve to confine the fire and also permit men to get around the fire quickly.

  2. Be sure to have enough men on hand when you start a fire to control the fire if it threatens to spread beyond the slash.


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