Free talk on birds, vegetation and fire mitigation on Feb. 9

Fire is a serious risk and to address its threats, more than 20,000 acres of piñon-juniper woodlands in the Arkansas River Valley have been removed or cut back by the Bureau of Land Management and private landowners.

Western State Colorado University Professor Patrick Magee has studied how this tree removal influences birds, vegetation and fire danger. He will give a free presentation titled, “Social and ecological trade-offs of thinning in piñon-juniper woodlands of the Arkansas River Valley,” from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Salida SteamPlant Event Center’s Riverside Annex. His talk explores research into how widely used fire mitigation techniques impact bird species that live in these local woodland habitats.

Magee, director of the Thornton Biology Undergraduate Research Program at the university, notes that several of the impacted birds are high-priority conservation species with declining populations. His research also found that thinning treatments changed vegetation, increasing the presence of non-native plants.

The presentation is hosted by Central Colorado Conservancy, a Salida-based land trust with a strong focus on wildlife and natural habitats.

Magee is the founder and director of Sisk-a-dee, a nonprofit dedicated to the conservation of the Gunnison Sage-grouse. He is a member of the Technical, Predation, Watchable Wildlife, and Information and Education sub-committees of the Gunnison Sage-grouse Strategic Committee, and a partner in the Gunnison Climate Work Group. He holds a Ph.D in wildlife ecology from the University of Missouri, and has been a faculty member at Western since 1996.

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