By Sheridan Block
As part of the community's efforts to combat the fir engraver beetle that has already claimed many trees surrounding Ouray, an outreach session will be held tonight in the Ouray Community Center.
Organized by resident Barbara Uhles with help from city staff, the session will inform the public on the different trees at risk in the area as well as how to prevent beetle infestation and treat infested trees. Representatives from the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado State Forest Service and the West Region Wildfire Council will educate the community and answer questions from the audience. Arborists from Montrose and Telluride will also be in attendance to give residents information about spraying trees for prevention and removing dead trees.
"We're going all out to try and get the trees of Ouray in a safer position so they aren't as susceptible (to the beetle)," said Uhles.
Everyone in town needs to be more proactive about the situation; while prevention is not expensive, many people don't even know what kinds of trees they have in their backyard, said Uhles. To help residents identify the trees on their property and the proper method of treatment, phtoographs and descriptions of at-risk trees will be available at the session.
White firs on public property and in Ouray parks are also a big concern for the city, which is why Uhles and other like-minded activists have begun a campaign to ease the cost of treatment for trees throughout the community.
Donations will go into a fund titled "Save the Trees" under the city's Beautification Committee. Uhles said that a $500 donation has already been put toward the fund from an out-of-state visitor who doesn't want to see the trees of Ouray die.
"Every little amount helps," said Uhles.
Send donations to the City of Ouray at P.O. Box 468, Ouray, CO, 81427; be sure to include "Save the Trees" on personal checks.
Uhles is hoping for a high turnout for the event to get everyone up to date and educated on the city's beetle infestation issue. She is also hoping for a wet, cold winter to keep the trees healthy and kill existing fir engraver larvae.
"It's been a lot of work, but it's heartwarming to know that there are people in town that care and are willing to do something," she said.
The outreach session will be hosted in the San Juan Room at the Ouray Community Center tonight at 6 p.m.