Conservation column: Ag Expo showcases Garfield County traditions | PostIndependent.com

Conservation column: Ag Expo showcases Garfield County traditions

Garfield County's rich agricultural history and traditions will be on display at the Garfield County Fairgrounds in Rifle on Saturday, Feb. 2, during the third annual Ag Expo event sponsored by the Bookcliff, Mount Sopris and South Side Conservation Districts, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Garfield County Colorado State University Extension. The festivities begin at 8 a.m. with coffee and registration, the educational sessions begin at 9 a.m. and continue through 3 p.m.

Ag Expo is an opportunity for friends, neighbors and new residents to gather together and to learn important new developments in all aspects of agricultural production from experts. Whether you are a backyard gardener, beekeeper or large-scale rancher and farmer, there will be something for you.

Water and climate will be the focus of the keynote speaker, Nolan Doesken, Colorado state climatologist from 2006 through 2017. Doesken is an expert in climate monitoring and long-term climate trends. After the 1997 flash flood in Fort Collins, he has spent over 20 years organizing a volunteer rain-gauge network to track and map local variations in Colorado precipitation. This project has grown into an international effort, and involves thousands of volunteers across many parts of North America.

Disaster Management for Livestock will be addressed by Ragan Adams, DVM, coordinator of the Veterinary Extension Specialist Group. Dr. Adams will detail strategies for ranchers to prepare disaster plans for unexpected emergencies, how to involve surrounding communities in the process of developing disaster plans for animals, and how to coordinate relief support efforts. Franklyn B. Garry, DVM, will discuss rebuilding a herd after a disaster and biosecurity precautions, including Johne's Disease control. Parker Nieslanik, of Nieslanik Beef, a third-generation rancher in the Roaring Fork Valley, will focus on challenges facing young ranchers.

Backyard gardeners and small acreage owners will be interested in the Greenhouse Gardening and Pollinator Habitat sessions presented by Abi Saeed, Garfield County's Agriculture & Horticulture Extension Agent. All landowners will benefit from Garfield County's Top Ten Weeds and Weed Sprayer Calibration classes conducted by Steve Anthony, Garfield County vegetation manager.

Rudy Garcia, New Mexico state agronomist, will present on soil health in the arid southwestern environment and challenges facing those who choose to improve their land's soil health. Daryle Bennett, Granite Seed Company, and Don Hijar, Pawnee Buttes Seed Company, will discuss drought tolerant seed mixes adapted to the climate of Western Colorado.

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New to Ag Expo this year will be a Kids Corner sponsored by Garfield County CSU Extension with activities, education materials and college and career options for youth interested in agriculture and related careers. There will also be a silent auction with proceeds to support Garfield County 4-H Youth.

Ag Expo will include a photographic exhibition of Western Colorado farms and ranches hosted by George Cutting from Crack in the Wall Gallery. Anyone who has historical or current photos of Western Colorado farms, ranches, agricultural fields and farm structures can join the exhibition. Call the CSU Extension Office 970-625-3969 for more details.

To register or to get more information, go to the Conservation Districts' website http://www.bookcliffcd.org for a link to the Eventbrite registration site.

The Bookcliff, Mount Sopris and South Side Conservation Districts promote sustainable management of the natural resources in our Districts through locally led conservation.

With the support of Garfield County, the conservation districts provide cost-share programs for noxious weed management, irrigation infrastructure improvements and soil testing. The districts also work with the youth of our community as well as adults on educational programs to balance the needs of agriculture, open space and urban growth.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service provides resources, including financial assistance and technical assistance, to landowners to aid them in conservation. Stewardship of the land produces cleaner air and water, improved soil, and abundant wildlife habitat – values we all share.

Garfield County Colorado State University Extension provides information and education, and encourages the application of research-based knowledge in response to local, state and national issues affecting youth, families, homeowners, farmers and ranchers, business owners, and the residents and communities of Garfield County.

Colorado State University Extension uses the latest research to help residents learn more about gardening, sustainability, pest management and identification, healthy eating, youth leadership and development, business management and much more.

Conservation Conversations appears monthly in the Post Independent in cooperation with the area conservation districts. Sara M. Dunn is district supervisor for the Bookcliff Conservation District.