With the exception of the two parks in the eastern portion of the railway belt, the forest reserves are located in the interior dry region. This has received first attention from the forestry officials, owing to the relatively great importance of water supplies. The reserves form two east and west belts, north and south of the railway line respectively, exclusive of the valley bottom lands. Agriculture in the district requires irrigation for success, the supply coming from the small mountain streams. In the conservation of this supply by the forest cover on the watersheds of these streams lies the main value of the reserves at present. The timber, in comparison with that outside the " dry belt," is now unimportant, and practically no logging operations are being carried on within the reserves. Improvement, with a view to in-creasing the efficiency of protection from fire, must constitute the main managerial care for some time.
Squatting.—Owing to the scarcity of agricultural land, and the general reservation, for some years, from homestead entry of Dominion lands except within the sub-arid region (pending contemplated changes of land policy), the squatting evil exists throughout the rail-way belt in a somewhat marked degree. This has an important bearing in connection with forest conservation. It is the old-time story of the clash between the interests of the lumberman and those of the settler. The lumberman is charged with holding, for speculative purposes, timber on agricultural soil, or holding under license logged-over lands which should be opened for settlement. On the other hand, the settler is charged with squatting on land chiefly valuable for its timber, and endangering timber limits by his careless use of fire in clearing land. Apart from the aspect of the defiance of law, the most undesirable feature of squatting in a forested region like the railway belt, lies in the increased difficulty of protecting timber from fire. Settlers as a whole do not give a forest protection policy their strongest support while they feel that the presence of timber on agricultural lands prevents its opening for settlement.
The condition of affairs may be remedied by increasing the land available for entry. This could be done by requiring operation on such licensed areas as are agricultural soil and adjacent to settlement. This would require to be done after due notice, in order not to disarrange business interests. Logged-over limit areas should be examined systematically, as operations are finished, for classification as to agricultural or forest lands, and in the former case opened for homesteading as the demand necessitates. With sufficient agricultural land made available for settlement, the government could enforce the regulations forbid-ding squatting on timber berths, and reduce the fire risk accordingly.