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130   COMMISSION OF CONSERVATION

permits have required in every case the piling of slash. Burning is carried on at convenient times by the forest officer. Satisfactory data as to the cost of piling per thousand can not be given, owing to the fact that each separate operation is of so small a character that figures obtained from them would be inaccurate as applied to an operation of any size. Settlers are, in most cases, willing to carry out any brush disposal regulations required.

The proposed extension of forest reserves in the railway belt, to include large areas within timbered regions, where logging operations of considerable size have been, and will be, carried on, will cause this question to assume much greater importance in the near future.

The debris resulting from lumbering or clearing operations outside the present forest reserves constitutes the greatest source of fire danger with which the Dominion fire protection service has to contend. It is safe to say that 90 per cent of all the fires which do damage have their origin in slash. The solution of this question is the greatest problem before the Forest Branch at the present time. The slash, besides being a source of great and ever increasing danger to adjoining timber or other property, is in most cases the greatest obstacle to regeneration, and must be removed before a second crop of timber can get a permanent start.

Until 1914, except in a few isolated cases, no consistent attempt was ever made in this district on the part of either the lumbermen or the Government to deal with this question. This negative attitude on the part of the lumbermen was the result of, first, exaggerated ideas as to the cost of burning; and, second, a natural aversion to taking the responsibility for carrying out burning operations, which might conceivably result in the spread of the fire beyond control, with resulting damage to timber and property for which the lumberman would be liable.

The inaction of the Government was due to lack of organization and lack of the necessary funds for the carrying out of such work; and also, to some extent, to lack of appreciation of the fact that any remedy was possible.

When the Dominion Forestry Branch administration in the railway belt of British Columbia was reorganized in 1912, the question of slash disposal was taken up and studied by various forest officers. The possibilities of action were discussed at ranger meetings and elsewhere, and the appointment of a special officer to deal with the question was urged upon the Government. The result of this was that during the spring of 1914 the Dominion Forestry Branch appointed one of the most experienced fire rangers in its employ to the position of slash burner for the railway belt. This officer made detailed studies of the


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