A call to action | AspenTimes.com

A call to action

Dear Editor:

I’d like to invite the entire community to the Hotel Jerome Ballroom this coming Monday, March 2, at 5:30 p.m., for a community action forum on the mountain pine beetle.

The mountain pine beetle, which has devastated forests around Vail, Steamboat Springs and Breckenridge, has now arrived in our valley. We have only a short time to decide what to do about it, and that is what this forum is about.

At the forum, we will present the success story of Merritt, British Columbia, a community that united and found a way to save 70 percent of the pines within its city limits and along its wildland-urban interface. Merritt’s success is remarkable, because it lies at the heart of the mountain pine beetle epidemic that has consumed 50,000 square miles of forests in B.C.

Tom Lacey, a Canadian forest expert who led the Merritt effort, is one of our speakers Monday. We are also featuring Dr. Nancy Gillette, a research entomologist and leading expert on the use of verbenone, a common natural pheromone, to control local beetle populations.

The forum will feature a new documentary, “A Call To Action,” by Emmy award winning filmmaker Greg Poschman. This short film is narrated by Olympic medalist Chris Klug, who will introduce the film at the Jerome on Monday night.

So far, science has found no silver bullet to stop the pine beetle, and we cannot save all the threatened pines in the vast forests around Aspen, but we can work to save a significant percentage in town, on private land, and along the wildland-urban interface in valuable areas we wish to protect. But we must discuss this as a community, and decide on a course of action.

City of Aspen forester Chris Forman and Aspen Center for Environmental Studies executive director Tom Cardamone, two of the most knowledgeable people in our community about forest ecology, will also be participating.

Please come Monday at 5:30 p.m. to the Hotel Jerome Ballroom and take part in this vital community discussion.

John Bennett

executive director

For The Forest

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