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Greater Arkansas River Nature Association will be presenting interesting and exciting lectures every second Thursday. The first one, “Exploring Spruce Beetles,” is Jan. 9 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall at First Presbyterian Church of Salida, 7 Poncha Blvd.

Our Upper Arkansas Valley forests are a beautiful and important part of the environment we live in. According to the Colorado State Forest Service, the spruce beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis) is responsible for the death of more spruce trees in North America than any other natural agent.

One trip up Monarch Pass will show that the spruce beetle population has reached epidemic proportions in our region. For GARNA’s series on spruce beetle education, USFS Silviculturist Alex Rudney and Colorado State Forest Service Forester JT Shaver will present on the progress of the spruce beetle outbreak in the San Isabel National Forest, particularly on Monarch Pass, discuss spruce beetle biology and life cycles and look at the probable future of the high elevation spruce forests in and around Chaffee County.

Alex and JT’s combined experience includes over 30 years of forestry in California and in or near the San Isabel, White River and the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests of Colorado.

The cost of the program is $3 for GARNA members, $6 for non-members. A follow-up field experience is Friday, Jan. 17, as part of the Ski with a Naturalist program at Monarch Mountain, to learn about spruce trees and signs of beetles and their damage at Monarch. Ability to ski and a lift ticket or season pass are required for the free Ski with a Naturalist program.

To register for the lecture, go to: https://garna.org/calendar/thursday-lecture-series-beetle-and-forest-health/

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