Previous Forest Protection in Canada 1913-1914 Next

 

134   COMMISSION OF CONSERVATION

and left on the licensed berths, often immediately adjacent to timber sale areas, that it seems unreasonable to compel an expenditure whose futility is only too evident. A more serious objection, however, and one which appeals not only to the smaller operators but also to the holders of berths, is a well-grounded doubt of the value of slash disposal as a fire protective measure. Although no one seriously denies the danger which accumulated coniferous slash gives rise to, and although it is generally agreed that a disproportionate number of fires occur in slash areas, and the cost of the control in such areas is unreasonably high, nevertheless, there are no figures available to support a claim that slash disposal is anything in the nature of a panacea for forest fires, and it is believed that before slash disposal of an effective kind, which necessarily means an increased logging cost, can be reasonably urged or enforced upon logging operators on Dominion lands, it will be necessary for the Dominion fire protective establishments to demonstrate an ability to control and suppress fires which originate wholly independent of any logging operation or slash area, and which, at the present time, constitute by far the bulk of the fires in this district. Slash is not a result exclusively of logging operations. There are enormous areas of burnt-over reproduction lands and lands bearing timber of pole size where the accumulation of slash as the result of fire is almost as dangerous as is the slash produced on logging operations. The acreage of such naturally produced slash is many times that of all the acreage of logging slash in the district, and operators have a very reasonable and almost incontrovertible argument against assuming the burden of slash disposal so long as the fire protective forces are incapable of handling the large proportion of fires which originate outside slash areas.

The problem of slash disposal cannot be considered independently and separately from the general problem of fire protection, and it is my belief that the natural sequence is, first, to provide adequate fire protection outside logging operations—which means on all the timbered lands in the district except a very small fraction of the total area—and then attack the slash menace as an improvement on an efficient system already devised and in operation. I think it will be found that this is the sequence of development in all those lumbering districts where slash disposal by burning has become established as a recognized part of a logging operation. It is the only truly logical course of development, and, in view of the many complexities of timber owner-ship and timber land administration which prevail on both Dominion and provincial lands, a procedure which does not have incontrovertible logic to support it has a very small chance of success.


Previous Forest Protection in Canada 1913-1914 Next