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Tree Symposium On Mountain Pine Beetles, Ponderosa Pine And High Altitude Landscaping

Entomologist Dave Leatherman and KUNC gardener Tom Throgmorton are the keynote speakers for the third annual Tree Symposium on Wednesday, May 6. Doors open at 8 a.m. at the Estes Park Conference Center in the Holiday Inn.

The day-long event features panel discussions, displays, door prizes, and the opportunity to meet with representatives of businesses offering tree services, preventive spraying, and landscaping.
The symposium is organized by the Estes Park Tree Board and sponsored by the Town of Estes Park. All programs are free and open to the public. The Holiday Inn will be selling refreshments and lunch specials to those attending.

Leatherman opens the day’s programs at 8:30 with a presentation entitled “Mountain Pine Beetles—Keystone Species or Darth Vader?” He will discuss the ecology and management of pine beetles, along with the history, current status, and future prospects of this important forest insect in the Estes Valley.

Although many audience members may have already decided that pine beetles are emissaries of Darth Vader, Leatherman’s program will increase everyone’s appreciation of this complex, interesting insect. His program at last year’s symposium was standing-room-only and highly praised on audience response forms.
Dave Leatherman was a forest entomologist for the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) for 31 years. He is perhaps the state’s leading authority on pine beetles and other pest-related threats to forests. He and all the other speakers and panel members will be available in the open forum room after their presentations to answer individual questions.

“West Side Story-Lessons Learned,” a panel discussion by foresters and residents of the Granby area, follows Leatherman’s program at 9:45. Does the Estes Valley face the same kind of pine beetle epidemic that devastated forests on the West Slope? What did people who faced the epidemic do to protect their trees? Did anything work? What are they doing now to recover from the epidemic?

These are some of the questions this panel, headed by Ron Cousineau, CSFS Forester for the Granby District, will try to answer.

Wildfires are always a threat to forests and homes. At 11:00, CSFS Forester Boyd Lebeda will lead a panel of agency specialists in a program called “Wildfire & Beetles-Fire Management Update.” Representatives of Rocky Mountain National Park, the Estes Park Volunteer Fire Department, and the U.S. Forest Service will discuss their agencies’ firefighting policies. Other issues that will be covered include how beetle-killed trees affect the intensity and spread of forest fires and how residents can help firefighters protect their homes in case of a fire.

Following a lunch break from noon to 1:30, the symposium takes a step away from the threat of beetles and wildfires. Tom Throgmorton leads off the afternoon schedule with a presentation on “High Elevation Landscaping.” Managing a yard or garden is demanding in the Estes Valley, and this program is offered to help audience members face the challenge.

Throgmorton will discuss landscape design, xeriscape planting, plant selection, and plant care. He will be available for individual questions after the program. He has a plant management business in Ft. Collins and has been the gardening correspondent for public radio station KUNC since 1990.

A panel discussion on pine beetle management follows at 2:45. Representatives of RMNP, CSFS, U.S. Forest Service, Larimer County, and the Town of Estes Park will discuss what their agencies are doing to manage and control the spread of pine beetles in a program called “All Hands on Deck—Dealing with Beetles.”

With public lands surrounding the Estes Valley, the Tree Board feels it is important for residents to understand what agencies managing those lands can and cannot do to control pine beetles. In addition, county and town officials will discuss their management efforts and compliance with the laws in place to control the spread of beetles.

Information about free local management services, including the Beetle Busters tree inspection program and air-curtain burner for disposing of beetle-infested trees, will be included in the presentation.

Ending the day’s programming at 4:00 will be a second presentation by Dave Leatherman, “The Natural History of the Ponderosa Pine.” Changing focus from the worries and threats to area forests, Leatherman intends to expand residents’ understanding and appreciation of the forest in which they live. He will discuss the botany of ponderosas, as well as the birds, mammals, and plants associated with them.

Although Leatherman is a trained entomologist, he has become a true naturalist with a unique understanding of forest ecology and all the species involved in making a forest what it is. Join him in this celebration of life in a ponderosa forest.

The Tree Board invites area residents to spend the day learning how to care for some of their most valued assets, the trees and plants that surround their homes. Learn about beetle and fire management, visit with businesses that provide tree and landscape services, talk with experts, and guess the age of an old tree and win a prize.

Protecting trees takes a community. Join with other people who care and help save our trees, for this generation and for those that follow.

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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