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244   COMMISSION OF CONSERVATION

burned as far west as Mire creek. The Clearwater forest appears to have suffered less than the others, due no doubt to its remoteness from civilization. The Brazeau and Athabaska forests have also experienced large fires, but to what extent is imperfectly known.

' Three-fourths of the forest area of the reserve, it is estimated, has been burned over at various times, mostly within the last 60 years. so that the majority of the stands are " second growth," below timber size. These are almost always lodgepole pine, and as this species forms more than one-half of the mature stands as well, it may be said to characterize the east slope.

(1) Mature Stands.—The mature stands of timber occur largely as isolated areas which have escaped fire. Along the margin of the foothill country and occasionally in the interior, stands of Douglas fir occur, but these have been so reduced by fires from the adjoining prairie as to be relatively unimportant. The majority of the mature stands consist almost altogether of three species—lodgepole pine, Engelmann spruce, and white spruce—all of commercial importance. They occur either as pure or mixed stands. North of the Bow river the mature timber is very largely pine.

The mature pure spruce stands occupy the valley bottoms and lower slopes, while the pure pine stands are largely restricted to the upper and steeper slopes. The intermediate slopes are covered with mixtures of pine and spruce in varying proportions. This altitudinal distribution is related to the depth of soil and drainage, the spruce requiring a moist, well-drained soil, whereas the pine can thrive on a drier situation. Tree growth ceases at about 7,000 feet, due to lack of soil and other physical conditions obtaining, rather than to the climatic conditions.

On the upper slopes the soil is too poor for the production of large trees, and the merchantable timber is confined to the lower slopes and the deeper soils of the intermediate slopes. The accessible stands are virtually all under license at present. Originally the best spruce probably occurred in the Highwood and Crowsnest River valleys, where a maximum size of three feet in diameter and over 100 feet in height was attained. The present stands consist of trees mostly 10 to 18 inches in diameter. Pine, on the best sites among spruce, reaches a diameter of two feet, but in pure stand it only averages 8 to 14 inches. Logging has so far been carried on mostly for spruce, on account of its larger size, the average log from government returns showing a con-tent of 50 board feet. Both species of spruce produce lumber of identical qualities. The pine, though shorter than the spruce, possesses a less tapering stem, with a greater clear length, and, since it also produces a clearer lumber, with a more pleasing grain, it will in time


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