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Starting Thursday, January 9, the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association(GARNA) will be presenting interesting and exciting lectures every second Thursday. The first lecture in the series will be from 7 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall at the First Presbyterian Church of Salida located at 7 Poncha Blvd, in Salida.

The first lecture in the series is titled “Exploring Spruce Beetles.” United States Forest Service Silviculturist Alex Rudney and Colorado State Forest Service Forester JT Shaver will educate those in attendance on spruce beetles, presenting on the progress of the spruce beetle outbreak in the San Isabel National Forest. Particularly on Monarch Pass, they will discuss spruce beetle biology and life cycles, and look at the probable future of the high elevation spruce forests in and around Chaffee County.

Spruce Beetle. Image courtesy of Colorado State Forest Service.

In a press release from GARNA it said, “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.”

GARNA shared, “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 and $6 for non-members. There will be a follow up field experience on Friday, January 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. The ability to ski and a lift ticket or season pass are required for the free Ski with a Naturalist program.

Those interested in registering for the lecture, have been encouraged by GARNA to visit the following link: Those with questions, can contact GARNA by emailing or by calling (970) 539-5106.

More information with regard to the upcoming Thursday lecture series can be found by visiting the GARNA calendar.