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258   COMMISSION OF CONSERVATION

the need of rangers on the timber reservations, of more control of trespass, of conserving timber along streams from the Rockies, and of prairie planting.

At last, on August 15, 1899, a " chief inspector of timber and forestry " was appointed, and this marks the beginning of a branch to organize a system of fire protection. The plan adopted was that of a local selection of fire rangers, working under the direction of the Crown timber agent for the district, or his sub-officers. The agent prescribed the patrol area, and notified the ranger when to commence and when to quit, according to the nature of the season. Each year saw this organization extended into new regions, so that the force with 22 rangers in 1903, numbered in 1912 some 165 men (outside of reserves). The work of supervision has grown beyond the capacity of the Crown agents, with their other affairs, and chief rangers, with no other duties, and with an inspector over all, are in charge.

The forest reserves likewise began to receive some attention as the result of this new step. A system of fire-guard construction along boundaries adjoining open prairie was begun, and forest rangers brought about a more desirable state of affairs as regards fire and timber theft within the reserves. The work of examining non-agricultural areas and creating new reservations went steadily ahead. The Forestry Branch is still the only agency for the classification of Dominion lands.

The long-discussed matter of prairie planting was settled in 1901 by the creation of a tree-planting division, and the establishment of a nursery at Indian Head, Saskatchewan. The object has been to supply settlers with trees for farm planting as shelter belts and small wood-lots. Up to 1913, some 25,000,000 trees have been supplied to applicants, with highly successful results. Stock has also been grown for experimental planting on some of the reserves. It must be borne in mind that the project is not intended to have any relation to the problem of general timber supply.

An important stage was reached in 1906, by the passing of the Dominion Forest Reserves Act, which placed the control and management of the reserves under the Forestry Branch, with provision for the making of regulations for their handling. At the same time a large number of new reserves were created. The licensed berths within reserve boundaries, however, were exempted from reserve regulations, an anomalous action, which removed practically all the mature timber and all the logging operations from the application of forestry practice.

In the present organization, for administration of the reserves in the field, the whole area is divided into four inspection districts, corresponding with provincial boundaries. These are in charge of district


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