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Peak and Prairie E-newsletter

Newsletter of the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter

May 2014

Electronic Edition

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

"Rocked the Capitol"

This year, the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter rocked the Capitol on behalf of our members, our supporters, and Colorado's environment.  If it were not for us, Colorado wouldn't be the only state in America that doesn't allow the oil and gas industry to use eminent domain to condemn land for oil and gas pipelines.  

The RMC Legislative Committee, once they found out about this bill, kicked into high gear, alerted the environmental community and our members and supporters, and, with your help, killed that bill.  And that was just the tip of the iceberg of their activities this year!

In lieu of my own Director's Message this month, here is the Legislative Committee's post-session wrap-up...

Legislative Update
Wild 2014 legislation session is over

By Karen Dike
RMC Legislative Committee Chair

Legislative update graphic

I will start by saying the most important thing I learned this session—I don't ever want to be a politician! I can tell you that the legislators are hardworking, driven people. We may not always agree with them, but the majority do pay attention to their constituents. Still, I don't want to be one of them.

I also entered the world of lobbyists, spending time outside chamber doors watching them talk to the legislators. It was fascinating. I also learned what a great committee we have and how hard-working they are, trying to learn the nuances of the bills. Thank you, team, for a great session.


Rally to oppose Keystone XL pipeline is May 17

By Matt Reed 
RMC Conservation Programs Coordinator

Colorado State Capitol

Colorado State Capitol is the
gathering place to oppose
Keystone XL pipeline.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
Take Action Orange

Just say "no" to the Keystone XL pipeline and dirty fuels and "yes" to clean energy by joining other Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter (RMC) members and supporters at a rally this Saturday, May 17. To be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the west steps of the Colorado State Capitol, the event is part of Sierra Club's National Day of Action that's being held in conjunction with the Tar Sands Coalition and Hands Across the Sand/Hands Across the Land events.


Get big benefits by going solar in June

By Carol Carpenter
RMC Communications Team

solar sign
Sungevity installed solar panels on
Centennial, Colo. home

Photo by Jim Hart

Summer is near. The days are longer and sunshine is more abundant. Why let that warm and plentiful solar energy go to waste when it could be cooling and warming your home? At the same time, you can do something tangible to improve the environment.

You can go solar easily and affordably—with the guaranteed goal of lowering your future energy bills—by taking advantage of Sierra Club's innovative partnership with Sungevity, a leading national solar company, to install solar panels on your home's roof.


Colorado Oil and Gas Roundup
Local control fight looms

By Lauren Swain
RMC Beyond Oil & Gas Team Chair 

Oil & Gas Roundup small

Take Action Button 200 Flat Red

We are excited to announce the formation of our new RMC Local Control Action Team (LCAT) and we need your help to be successful! Please click here or on the Take Action button to learn more and get involved.

It's exciting, disturbing and nerve-wracking to watch the news about Colorado's drilling and fracking issues building every day. We are swiftly heading into a costly, high-stakes battle for local control over our state's mushrooming oil and gas operations—whether in a potential special legislative session, at the ballot box, or both. 

Read more... 

RMC seeks ExCom nominations

By Angela Medbery
Nominations Committee

Rocky Mountain Chapter (RMC) is now soliciting nominations for individuals to serve on the RMC Executive Committee (ExCom) for the years 2015 and 2016.

As an ExCom member you will be expected to become involved with at least one chapter committee and/or hold an office that requires some time outside of the four in-person, all day, quarterly meetings and additional seven one-hour phone conference call meetings. You will serve as a guide for Colorado Sierra Club activities, activists and administrative functions


Media Watch
And in this

By James Luidl
RMC Communications Team

Media Watch small

Neil deGrasse Tyson is the Muhammad Ali of Science. It has been a pleasure to watch him on the current incarnation of Cosmos deconstructing, with wit and wisdom, science deniers, creationists and political pundits. Tyson promised before the show aired why he doesn't debate deniers and that he wasn't going to do it on Cosmos either. 

True to his word, he doesn't. What he and Seth McFarlane have done is to simply reference that, "some people believe this or that," then proceed to entertainingly push over their house of cards in an embarrassing fashion. Embarrassing because it's so obvious.

Read More... 

Petition drive under way for GMO food labeling
GMO tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of the top 10
GMO foods
Photo credit: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

Do you enjoy corn on the cob, a tomato, salmon, or a candy bar? You may be biting into a food that is a result of genetic engineering. You probably don't know it and most food producers won't tell you. Why? Because they don't have to. Sierra Club invites you to help change that!

The Rocky Mountain Chapter has endorsed Right to Know Colorado and its campaign to achieve mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods in Colorado. Right to Know Colorado and Sierra Club volunteers are circulating petitions around the state to put the question of labeling on the November ballot. For Initiative 48 to appear before voters, supporters must collect 86,105 valid petition signatures by Aug. 4.

Read more...     

Hike, have fun at Step Strong Colorado

Step Strong Hike-SA-Thon Banner 500 sm.jpg

Join fellow Sierra Club members and supporters for a day of fun and adventure at our annual Step Strong Colorado Benefit Hike to Protect the Environment, Saturday, Sept. 13, at Roxborough State Park.

This year's event has some new features, including prizes for folks who get the most people to sign up. Snack food will be provided as well as FREE ONE-DAY PARK PASSES (normally $7/vehicle). Be on the lookout for a personal invite with more details and sign up instructions in the next few weeks.


Pesticides Committee needs your pesticide info

By Angela Medbery
RMC Communications Team

Cropduster spraying pesticides
Cropduster spraying
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
The Rocky Mountain Chapter Pesticides Committee is still collecting information on incidents, experiences and concerns with pesticides in the past decade.

One in 30 households surveyed in 1976 reported they or someone in their household had experienced dizziness, nausea, headache or vomiting, which they attributed to pesticides. Today many of us are concerned about exposures that may cause long-term health and environmental effects.


Volunteers to remove teasel weed in Wheat Ridge

By Carol Carpenter
RMC Communications Team 

teaselhead week
Teasel weed in Wheat Ridge
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 return of Frackenstein!

By James Anderson

Frackenstein May

Facebook Photo Contest

"Spring" by Sven Nakayama

Congratulations to Sven Nakayama
! Sven is the winner of our April "Spring" Facebook Photo Contest.  

Enter our Facebook photo contest! 

Did you know that we have a monthly photo contest? The theme for the May contest is "SUNRISES/SUNSETS." Submit your best sunrise or sunset 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 are just two Rocky Mountain Chapter (RMC) staff people right now: the director, Joshua Ruschhaupt—working with over 150 great volunteer leaders in the chapter and groups, and our new conservation programs coordinator, Matt Reed.  We need to hear from you 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!

Outings Leaders

Colorado is a hiker's mecca. We're looking to build a core leadership team to work with our outings leaders, and also looking for several outings leaders throughout Colorado. Have you ever wanted to lead your own fun or conservation-minded hikes? Or just get out and enjoy the outdoors hikes? Winter or summer, Sierra Club is known for great outings with trained volunteer leaders. Let us train you to be one of them. We're really excited to get our outings program working directly on conservation issues, too! Contact Outings Chair Chris Applegate at:

RMC Roaring Fork Group leaders (see map)

The Roaring Fork Group is looking for new and energetic leaders to volunteer to help out with fighting oil and gas drilling proposals on the Thompson Divide, west of Carbondale, and south of Glenwood Springs. The Group is also pursuing Wild and Scenic status for the Crystal River. You should live within the Roaring Fork Group boundary: Pitkin County, Eagle County in the Roaring Fork Valley or Fryingpan Valley, or eastern Garfield County. They're also looking for volunteer leaders interested in helping lead the Group itself. Get in touch with Mark Stevens, RFG Executive Committee member, at




In this issue:

  • Director's Message: Wild 2014 legislative session is over
  • Rally to oppose Keystone XL pipeline is May 17
  • Get big benefits by going solar in June
  • Oil & Gas Roundup: Local control fight looms
  • RMC seeks ExCom nominations
  • Media Watch: And in this
  • Petition drive under way for GMO food labeling
  • Hike, have fun at Step Strong Colorado
  • Pesticides Committee needs your pesticide info
  • Volunteers to remove teasel weed in Wheat Ridge
  • 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:

Hike and Write set for Alderfer/Three Sisters Park

Hike and Write

Save the Date!

Come join RMC Denver Metro Network's fourth Hike & Write event on Saturday morning, May 24. Bring a pen and tablet to write some fabulous poetry or prose as you take in the beauty and splendor of your surroundings.
This hike, approximately three miles round trip, takes place in Alderfer Three Sisters Park, 31677 Buffalo Park Rd., Evergreen, from 9 a.m. to noon. We will meet at the west parking lot.

We will hike until our first writing stop, with at least two writing stops throughout the day. The focus of our outing is Chiaroscuro poetry, which will be explained at the trailhead with examples given at writing stops. Access directions and trail map are available at the park website.
Please bring the following:

  • Backpack with writing tablet and pen/pencil
  • 1 quart of water
  • Energy snack
  • Sunscreen
  • Extra layers just in case of inclement or chilly weather
  • Hat
As with all Sierra Club DMN events, a $5 donation is recommended but not required. This money helps the DMN maintain the high quality of its outings.
Please contact me (Colleen Finnerty) via Meetup before or on the day of the hike (prior to 7:30 a.m.) if you have any questions. Guide for the day is Dr. Richard F. Fleck, former seasonal park ranger, naturalist, and professor of American literature and environmental writing.

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Donate Today

Please support your Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter.

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

Meetup logo

Outting Leader Meeting: Summer-A Denver Metro  Network Event

When: Sunday, May 18
5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Where: Jesse Spratta's House, 465 Knox Court, Denver, CO 80204 (map)

This is the first of four seasonal meetings that we will be having for current Outing Leaders, folks on their way to Outing Leader certification, and people who are interested in becoming leaders.  This will be a potluck at my friend Jesse Spratta's house, so please bring things for the group to eat and drink (we'll have between 10 and 20 people attending).  If you have specific dietary concerns (diabetic, gluten intolerance, vegan etc.), then please bring a dish that you will be able to eat and share.

This meeting will focus on what outings people want to lead for the summer, to make sure there are not duplicate outings, to go over safety concerns specific to summer outings, and just have fun socializing and meeting new people.

The next Outing Leader Meeting will be Sunday August 17th and I would love someone to volunteer their home (it would be great to rotate these meetings amongst the leaders).  This meeting will focus on fall outings.

Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions.

For more information, please contact Colleen Finnerty at 303-388-1058.

Meetup logo

Freshwater Facts and Fun at Lair O' The Bear - A Denver Metro Network Event

When: Sunday, May 25
9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Where: Lair O' The Bear Park, Highway 74 Bear Creek Road, Morrison, CO (map)

Everyone loves to hike near a creek, stream or flowing river. Hearing the melodic and sometimes hypnotic rush-&-flow of our riparian life-lines certainly revives and refreshes our entire being. But did you know that only 2.5% of all water on earth is freshwater and only 0.6% is readily available for use?  This expedition along the tranquil but active Bear Creek will not only enliven the senses but will be an engaging look at our most precious resource and the issues that surround it. Highlights include about an hour spent picking up trash along a small stretch of the creek and a stop outside one of Colorado's most notable castles to view its original external water wheel that provides hydroelectric power to the stately establishment to this day.

Visit our Meetup page for additional information about the three phases of this trip.

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!

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Header Photo Credit: Communications Team volunteer Bill Bruner.