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FORESTRY ON DOMINION LANDS   243

of the Prairie provinces. The importance of preserving the forest cover at the source of supply, to ensure an even flow during the year throughout this vast region, can scarcely be overestimated. The two westerly provinces are not endowed with a liberal water supply, and the denudation of the east slope of the Rockies, with consequent rapid run-off, would undoubtedly necessitate the construction of huge storage reservoirs.

In addition, the east slope is largely underlain with coal deposits, estimated by the Geological Survey at over 22,000 million tons. In the development of these areas the forest will play a very important part, to say nothing of the future supply of lumber products in general.

The reserve in the past has been extensively and severely burned at different periods*. The survey party engaged in determining the eastern boundary, from the Elbow river south, during 1910, estimated that at least 60 per cent of their territory had been fire-swept within the past 60 years. The party working north arrived at a figure of 75 per cent burned between the Elbow and North Saskatchewan rivers. A study in 1908 of the Crowsnest River valley, between the Livingstone range and the continental divide, showed but 16 per cent of the 212 square miles involved as unburned; and of the burned area nearly one-half was not restocking. South of the Crowsnest river little timber has escaped fire, outside of the valley bottoms.

North of the Crowsnest, to the Bow river, the reserve suffered very severely in 1910; this was prior to its organization. In the Porcupine hills an area of some 50 square miles was devastated. The valley of the north fork of the Oldman river (Livingstone) was all burned, with the exception of the headwaters of the west branch. The valley of the Highwood river was burned to the extent of some 150 square miles, and some 50,000,000 feet of fine spruce timber killed. The Elbow River valley was cleaned out entirely, as well as the adjacent prairie country. The Kananaskis valley was largely burned, and at the headwaters of the Little Red Deer river a tract of about 110 square miles was overrun. It is estimated that the fires of 1910 ran over at least half a million acres of the reserve south of the Red Deer river, and destroyed some 200,000,000 feet of merchantable timber.

Although north of the Red Deer comparatively little was burned in 1910, except east of the reserve, very extensive fires, mostly dating 25 to 50 years back, have occurred throughout the region. From the James river to the Clearwater river all has been burned over in the vicinity of the eastern boundary. The Saskatchewan valley has been

*The following fire data are taken from various Forestry Branch bulletins and reports, together with information supplied by the district inspector for Alberta.


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