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Peak and Prairie Enewsletter

Newsletter of the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter

March 2014

Electronic Edition

Message from the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter Director, Joshua Ruschhaupt:

"Racing towards infotained and gamified conservation"

NYPD Volt!

The Volt is dependable enough to 
withstand the heavy field use by
the New York Police Department. 

Wikimedia commons

[Part three in a multi-part series on the Chevy Volt’s “game-changing” conservation technology. Parts 1 & 2.]

Most people don’t realize that entire industries are focused on the psychology of the human brain… to manipulate us. These industries usually seek to find the fastest way to part us from our money in exchange for a product. Ever watched a commercial? Of course. But have you ever watched a commericial without realizing it? You’ve been infotized or advertained. Ever watched tv news? Chances are you’ve been infotained. Ever been rewarded in some manner for interacting with something that isn’t really a game? You’ve been gamified.

In the realm of conservation, and convincing people to almost instantaneously and naturally conserve without being forced to (the carrot, rather than the stick), gamification is...


Greater Sage-Grouse threatened with habitat loss

By Delia Malone
RMC Wilderness Chair

sage grouse
Greater Sage-Grouse
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

We can talk about laws, and we can talk about environmental standards, air quality, water quality, habitat structure and species composition. But in the end conserving the Greater Sage-Grouse is about conserving our life; it’s about protecting and conserving what makes us the West.


Don't miss the rooftop revolution in Colorado

By Allison Weston
Sierra Club Solar Homes Coordinator

solar homes
Every single day, there are things we can do and choices we can make that help protect the planet. Small or large, they make a difference.

If you're gauging effort versus impact, it's tough to make a more effective choice than making the switch to clean energy by choosing to power your home with sunshine. 


Oil & Gas Roundup
Never a dull moment for oil & gas

By Catherine Collentine
Colorado Beyond Natural Gas Rep

Oil & Gas Roundup small

There hasn't been a dull moment for oil and gas issues in Colorado so far in 2014. In Ft. Collins after the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) sued the city to revoke the five-year moratorium on fracking passed by voters last November, Sierra Club and its allies filed a motion to defend the moratorium. (See coverage of Sierra Club's Ft. Collins actions: Reporter Herald, Northern Colorado Public Radio, The Coloradoan, and E&E.)


Legislative Update
2014 session addressing whirlwind of bills

By Karen Dike
Legislative Committee Chair

Legislative update graphic

The 2014 session of the Colorado Legislature is a whirlwind. The Legislative Committee has been busy reading, discussing,opposing, supporting, and monitoringbills. Here are some:

  • Renewable energy. A number of bills were introduced with the intention of dismantling or overturning last year’s SB13-252, the bill that requires rural electric companies to use 20 percent renewable energy by 2020. So far all have been defeated.


Media Watch
Climate Change...them's fightin' words

By James Luidl
RMC Communications Team

Media Watch small

One reason I left mainstream journalism was due to a media strategy I saw as “focusing on the controversy.” Too often I developed stories, only to have my boss ask, “What about the other side?” While my stories did a good job laying out issues and solutions, the insinuation was that they lacked conflict to make them more... infotaining.


Hike, camp, improve creek basin near Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak Restoration
Volunteers restore vegetation
near Pikes Peak

Photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain Field Institute

If you are someone who likes to get out into nature to make a difference, an opportunity is available in June to join agroup that will be performing remediation/ revegetation work in the Pikes Peak area. Also included in this Sierra Club National Service trip will be opportunities to hike and camp.

Read more... 

RMC endorses GMO labeling, petition drive 

By Julie Ott
RMC Pesticides Committee

Genetically modified corn
Genetically engineered corn
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

In mid-April Right to Know Colorado will have petitions to place the question of labeling genetically modified foods on Colorado’s November 2014 ballot. Sierra Club’s Rocky Mountain Chapter has endorsed this initiative proposal and is coordinating a petition drive with Right to Know Colorado.

You, too, can be part of the labeling drive. To help gather signatures for the cause, please contact me, Julie Ott, at 719-201-3024 or to receive a petition.


Your input needed on Pesticide Applicators Act

By Angela Medbery
RMC Pesticides Committee

Cropduster spraying pesticides
Cropduster spraying 

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Work continues on the review of the Pesticide Applicators Act. Your input on pesticide applications and their enforcement would be appreciated. Consider the following questions:
  • Would you like your neighbors to inform you before they spray?
  • When the mosquito spray truck comes down your street, can you prevent your property from being sprayed?
  • Would you like to see less mosquito fogging for mosquitoes and more larviciding of breeding grounds?


Wheat Ridge water quality project starts in June

teaselhead week
Teasel weed
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
What does Wheat Ridge do when its Clear Creek Greenbelt Open Space acquires an infestation of an exotic weed (teasel)?And what does it do when that same wetland harbors an endangered plant and an endangered mouse, both of which could be harmed by spraying herbicides?

The Rocky Mountain Chapter Water Quality and Wetlands Committee has been helping out the city for years by manually removing and reducing the weed population, and we will continue that work in 2014.


Featured Volunteer: Kathleen Butler
Tough challenges spur this Denver Metro volunteer

By Carol Carpenter
RMC Communications Team 

Kathleen Butler
Kathleen Butler

Before the new Denver Metro Network (DMN) became a reality last year, one early—and very key—volunteer was helping make it happen behind-the-scenes. That was Kathleen Butler, a Colorado native and Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter (RMC) member since 2000.


The Return of Frackenstein

By James Anderson


Facebook Photo Contest

"Snow" by Alana Mahakali 

Congratulations to Alana Mahakali
! Alana is the winner of our February "Snow" Facebook Photo Contest.  

Enter our Facebook photo contest! 

Did you know that we have a monthly photo contest? The theme for the March contest is "ICE." Submit your best icy photos today!  Winner gets a free Sierra Club photo calendar.  Submit your photo now, and tell your friends to LIKE it!


Volunteer Leadership Openings

The RMC runs on people-power!

Would you believe that the Sierra Club runs more from volunteer leadership than staff leadership? It's true—there are literally thousands of volunteer leaders in different leadership capacities in 63 chapters and over 400 groups nationwide! Believe it or not, there's only one Rocky Mountain Chapter (RMC) staff person right now—the Director—working with over 150 great volunteer leaders in the chapter and groups. So it's critical that you contact us right away, even if you're only remotely thinking about spending a few hours or more per week helping out the environmental movement in Colorado.

Colorado's environment needs your activism and advocacy—the writing's on the wall! You show up, and we'll train you. There's even a lot of stuff you can do right from home. Doesn't matter where you are in Colorado—we're recruiting for the Chapter, and that covers the entire state. If you're interested, we've got a volunteer role to fit your interests, skills, experience, and knowledge.

If, after reading through the roles below, you're still unsure of where you might fit in, that's no problem. Just fill out the volunteer interest form on our website at

Together as an organized movement we will win!

RMC Uncompahgre Group leaders (see map)

The Uncompahgre Group is currently working on revitalizing their group's leadership. Their current Executive Committee (our local equivalent of a Board of Directors), which has decades of experience to share, is interested in transitioning to new, energetic, and passionate volunteers who are excited about pursuing the Club's mission. The major issues in the area are oil and gas drilling and fracking, water conservation and planning, recycling/zero waste, wilderness and wildlands, outdoor recreation, and more. If you're interested in pursuing the Sierra Club mission to “Explore, Enjoy, and Protect the Planet” on the west slope within the Uncompahgre Group, contact UG Co-Chair Carole Chowen, at

RMC Weminuche Group leaders (see map)

The Weminuche Group is currently not a running group, due to a lack of volunteer Executive Committee leaders, and the RMC knows there are many Sierra Club members and supporters in the region who care deeply about exploring, enjoying, and protecting Southwest Colorado. We're looking for new and energetic leaders to volunteer to become outings leaders, fight the oil and gas industry, advocate for healthy public lands, and more. You should live within the Weminuche Group boundary: San Miguel, Dolores, Montezuma, San Juan, La Plata, Hinsdale, Mineral, or Archuleta Counties. Get in touch with Joshua Ruschhaupt, at




In this issue:

  • Director's Message
  • Greater Sage-Grouse threatened with habitat loss
  • Don't miss the rooftop revolution in Colorado
  • Legislative Update: 2014 session addressing whirlwind of bills
  • Media Watch: Climate change: them's fightin' words
  • Hike, camp, improve creek basin near Pikes Peak
  • RMC endorses GMO labeling, petition drive
  • Your input needed on Pesticide Applicators Act
  • Wheat Ridge water quality project starts in June
  • Featured Volunteer: Kathleen Butler
  • Cartoon
  • Facebook Photo Contest
  • Volunteer Leadership Openings
  • Sidebar:
    • Must See Event!
    • Donate!
    • Go Solar!
    • P&P Archive
    • Be a member!
    • Facebook
    • Meetup
    • Twitter
    • Featured Outings
    • Story Idea? 

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Must-See Event:

Protecting your

Backyard Bees

      honey bees
Photo credit: James Anderson

Save the date!

When: Thursday, March 20th

Where: East Boulder Recreation Center, 5660 Sioux Drive, Boulder, Colo (map)

Honey bees, butterflies, bumblebees and other pollinators are in trouble. You’d be surprised by the little acts that can help protect pollinators and, thus, our local environment.
To learn more, you are invited to attend “Protecting Your Backyard Bees,” a forum in Boulder on the importance and protection of bees and what kills them and other pollinators.

Forum panelists are:
Carol Kearns, PhD, CU researcher, teacher and expert on bees and other insects;
Diana Oliveras, PhD, CU researcher, teacher and expert on bees and other insects; and Tom Theobold, beekeeper and plaintiff in a lawsuit to stop bee-killing pesticide use.
A short film clip from More than Honey, a recent documentary on bees, will be shown. A Q&A period will follow.

For more information, please contact Rebecca Dickson at

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Donate Today

Support your Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter.

Members: please open your March appeal letter the RMC just mailed to you, and consider making a significant gift to your favorite Sierra Club conservation work: the Rocky Mountain Chapter.

We only mail this request for your donation once per year, and 100 percent of your contribution stays here in Colorado!

We depend on your support to do all of our work! 

Contribute on our secure website today.

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Go Solar!

  Sierra Club Solar Homes 2013

If you are the proud owner of a single-family home, and you want to reduce Colorado's climate impact, you can install a solar system on your roof!  

Sierra Club RMC partners with Sungevity to employ local, certified solar installers. 

Get your free
solar iQuote now!

Sungevity supports Sierra Club with a great contribution with the completion of every installation we refer to them, and you also get $750!  

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Peak and Prairie

The Peak and Prairie is the official Chapter newsletter.

Read the current and previous issues of our printed and
e-newsletter on the Chapter's
newsletter web page.

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Visit the Chapter's events calendar page to find out about outings, conservation and political activities, and more.

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Join the Sierra Club

Not a Sierra Club member yet? No problem -- just "Join Now!" to become a member today at just $15!

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Be Social!

Like us on Facebook now!

Follow us on Facebook to
get our latest updates and relevant news, or on Meetup 
to join our latest activities, activism, and advocacy
We're on Twitter, too!


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Featured Outings

Mills Lake Snowshoe
Rocky Mountain National Park (map)

Saturday, March 22
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Join GLS for our first SPRINGTIME snowshoe outing as we visit beautiful Mills Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. The scenery is breathtaking, and so is the crisp alpine air. This spring snowshoe is a moderate-difficulty 5.3-mile round trip, with a starting elevation of 9240 feet and an elevation gain of 800 feet. Be prepared for cold and windy weather. We’ll move at a moderate pace and will stop for lunch at Mills Lake.

Bring snowshoes, poles, warm boots, warm clothing, hat, gloves, sunglasses, sun screen, lunch, and water.

Limited to 12 participants.

Contact Bill at 303-530-3482 or Mike at to sign up.

Meetup logo

Hike Reynolds Park

Reynolds Park - Main Trailhead
13581 South Foxton Road, Conifer, CO (map)

Sunday, March 30, 2014
9 a.m to 1 p.m.

Come join fellow hikers on an exploration of Reynolds Park!  This hike is rated moderate and will be around 6 miles in length and will climb through dense woodland as we make our way to Eagle's View for an amazing panoramic of our Rocky Mountains.  Stay after the hike and enjoy your packed lunch by the creek.

We will be meeting at the 2nd parking lot on right (if coming South/Southeast on Foxton Road) at the Songbird Trailhead. Please be advised that there are no amenities at this parking area though we will be hiking right past them at the beginning of our hike.  Also, please note that I do not have a cell phone, so if you have any questions or concerns about the hike or need to cancel then please contact me before 7:30 a.m. Sunday the 30.

This is a snow or shine hike meaning we will meet regardless of weather conditions unless those weather conditions are extremely hazardous i.e. blizzard.  Since this is the case please remember to bring the following:

• Warm winter clothes (think wool and synthetics; not cotton) and boots
• Plenty of water
• Snacks/Lunch
• Optional: thermos with hot cocoa, coffee or tea; camera; snowshoes

For more information, please contact Colleen Finnerty at 303-388-1058. Hope to see you on the trail!

 THE "TEN ESSENTIALS" -- The Sierra Club recommends the following be carried at all times when hiking in the backcountry:

Navigation (map and compass);
Fire (matches, lighters, and accelerant);
Signaling Device (whistle or mirror);
Sun Protection (sunglasses and sunscreen);
Insulation (extra clothing);
Nutrition (extra food);
Hydration (extra water and tablets);
Illumination (headlamp or flashlight);
First Aid Kit;
Emergency Shelter (tarp, bivy sack, and tent);
Repair Kit (tools, knife, cord, and tape).

OUR RMC WEBSITE HAS OTHER OUTINGS INFO THAT MIGHT BE OF INTEREST -- A Sierra Club Sign-In and Liability Waiver form must be signed before participating in outings -- if you desire to review a copy, please contact your trip leader.

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Story Idea?

If you have a story idea for
the Sierra Club Rocky
Mountain Chapter Peak and Prairie, just send a quick email to  

Be sure to get in touch with
the Communications Team if you are a RMC volunteer interested in being featured
in an article -- we want to let others know the great work you're doing and who you are!

Rocky Mountain Chapter | 1536 Wynkoop Street, 4th floor, Denver CO 80202, 303-861-8819 | Contact Us

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