FOREST FIRES AND BRUSH DISPOSAL, 133,
in the future is recognized, its present importance is not unusually great, because of the comparatively small amount of cutting that is taking place within the reserves. Both for this reason and because there are many other more pressing and more immediately important problems on hand, the question of slash disposal has been dealt with in only a very cursory manner. Slash in the reserves in the Alberta district results from four classes of operations. These are: Settlers' permits, involving some 600 or 800 permits a year; Forestry Branch timber sales; railroad tie-cutting permits; and the operations on licensed berths within the reserves.
The settlers who obtain timber on permit are all required to dispose of their slash by piling and burning, but, in the reserve, where the majority of such permits are issued, the permits are confined almost exclusively to dead timber, which produces very little slash, and therefore does not constitute a menace nor give opportunity for securing figures that would be of any value in arriving at the cost of such brush disposal.
The bulk of the Forestry Branch timber sales, and all of the tie-cutting permits within the forest reserve, have operated so recently that no work of slash disposal has been undertaken as yet. A number of operators are due to burn their slash at the end of the present fire season, but a great deal of opposition to this action has developed and is based upon grounds that are hard to controvert.
No slash disposal of any kind is undertaken on the licensed berths within the reserves, where the bulk of the timber cutting in this district goes on. These berths, of course, are not under the control of the Forestry Branch, even though located within the reserves, so that, so far as this office is concerned, the largest and most serious slash disposal question is entirely beyond our control. The licensed timber, of course, includes the bulk of the merchantable timber and practically all of that which at the present time can be logged and manufactured at a profit.
So long as slash is left undisposed of on the licensed timber berths, the disposal of it at the expense of the operator on areas covered by Forestry Branch sales will be attended with many difficulties, if not rendered entirely impossible. The timber on these tracts is now sold at rates many times the price charged on licensed berths, and the operators object strenuously to increasing their logging costs by being required to dispose of slash while the berth holders, who are in some cases their competitors, escape this expense. They also point to the fact that the quantity of slash on the timber sale areas is so insignificant when compared to the vast amounts of slash being produced