Ag Day topics include West Nile disease |

Ag Day topics include West Nile disease

Post Independent Photo/Jim NoelkerThis pinon along the Glenwood Canyon rim is infested with the Ips beetle. A large number of pinons in the Roaring Fork Valley are being attacked by the beetle.

Fifty people have already registered for the 13th annual Ag Day, a free seminar on Thursday, Jan. 29, focusing on conservation easements, West Nile disease and the Ips beetle infestation.

The deadline for registering for the day-long meeting is Monday, said Dennis Davidson, Natural Resources Conservation Service district conservationist in Glenwood Springs.

The seminar runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and a free lunch is provided.

“We’re limited on space, so we’re requiring that people register in advance,” Davidson said.

Held at the New Castle Community Center, 423 W. Main, the seminar is sponsored by the Bookcliff, Mount Sopris and South Side conservation districts, and the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The meeting attracts regional ranchers and landowners for a day of discussions and information about relevant land use issues.

Chris West of Colorado Cattlemen’s Agriculture Land Trust and Tom Lowery, an estate planning attorney, will begin the workshop at 9 a.m. by explaining how landowners can obtain conservation easements on their property.

Davidson said conservation easements allow private land to be permanently protected from commercial and residential development, and used for agricultural purposes or open space. Landowners receive tax benefits for setting land aside.

Later in the morning, Steve Anthony, Garfield County weed management director, will lead a discussion on West Nile disease and Garfield County’s management plan for dealing with the virus. County officials have approved $100,000 for mosquito control in 2004.

The disease is a seasonal infection that can be fatal and is transmitted by infected mosquitoes to birds, horses and humans.

In 2003, two local people tested positive for the disease, though those cases were not fatal. The virus was also detected in birds and horses throughout the region. The disease is expected to hit the area harder this year.

The final presentation will run from 1-4 p.m., and will educate property owners about the Ips beetle infestation, which is already evident in Garfield County.

A panel of speakers, including staff from the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, will explain how these beetles attack and can kill pinon trees already weak from the drought. They’ll also discuss the extent of the outbreak regionally, and what property owners can do to protect trees from infestation.

Register by Monday for Ag Day by calling 945-5494, ext. 101.

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

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