FOREST FIRE PROTECTION.

FOREST FIRE PROTECTION.

The present forest fire laws in Maine are popular with the Kennebec lumber men, who feel that the care which is now exercised over their industry will save the State many thousands of dollars. One of these lumbermen—a man of considerable prominence in the business, doubts if the average person realises exactly what a big forest fire means. “In the first place tne says), where a top fire has killed the timber it may be cut and sold; but fire-kindled timber never brings, as much on the market as other timber, and only a part of the loss can be recovered by the sale. A tree may he killed only here and there; but invariably other trees, although not killed, are more or less seriously injured. Frequently a tree thus injured, although only slightly, dies later from the weakened conditton thus caused from the introduction, through the injury of some form of fungus or insect life. A tire sometimes results in a change in the composition of the forest itself. -’.Poplars, birches, scrub oak and blueberry, replace the former dense forest growth. Almost invariably such substitution is undesirable and tends to exclude more valuable species. The fertility of the soil is seriously diminished by the destruction of the decomposing litter and of the vegetable portion of the soil. These things hold moisture that benefits the trees. The greatest loss of all to the forest in the long run is usually not reckoned into the loss account of a fire at all. The young growth existing at the time of a fire is nearly always killed. Suppose, for example, that a growth of ten-year-old pine is burned over, a fire would kill all such young growth. If put upon the market at the date of the fire, that crop would be worth very little: consequently, the loss reported is infinitesimal. But the time it has taken that growth to reach its present size is quite lost. Suppose it had been intended to harvest that crop at forty years old. Over twenty-five per cent, of the time required to produce that crop has been lost, and the injury to the community through injure to the industries dependent upon wood supply is the same as if oneouarter of that timber had been destroyed in its thirty-ninth or fortieth year. A mere statement of the market value of the timber annually destroyed by fire, even were it complete, could not begin to convey any adequate idea of the enormous loss to the community as a whole.”’

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