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Peak and Prairie Enewsletter
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet

Newsletter of the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter

June 2011

Electronic Edition


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

I love Colorado's wild climate. I've been on hikes in the hottest of summer days at lower elevations and have actually had it snow on me (graupel is a form of snow) while hiking at or near a summit on the same day. That's why I loved hearing that a snow storm in the mountains preceded the onset of summer this year. Colorado is a wild place.

Speaking of wild places...

In May, we co-sponsored with a presentation in Boulder on the "Colorado Roadless Rule." As event speaker and Sierra Club Deputy Executive Director Bruce Hamilton put it (paraphrasing): decades ago, we just called them wild lands.

Well, even with what we do to them via climate change, public lands sans roads, a.k.a. "roadless" areas, are no less wild today. But even so, there are special interests in energy and forestry that want to create more roads.

Already, there are over 17,000 miles of inventoried roads within the bounds of Colorado. If you were to drive that distance, which some of us already do in our own vehicle within a year or two according to the odometer, you could drive from Denver to the southernmost point in South America, Ushuaia, Argentina... and back... with a "little" side-trip to NYC, NY... and back, and you would then approximate the length of roads contained here in Colorado (Google it). Do we really need any more?

One of the big problems with having so many miles of roads in Colorado is the immense cost. We just can't keep up with the tens of millions of dollars in the backlog of maintenance on the existing roads. Based on a 2003 study, 92% of Bureau of Land Management public land in Colorado is within one mile of a road.

Plus there's the cost to our environment associated with these roads. If it's not non-point pollution from things like vehicle oil-drippings getting into the water, then there's also the cost of the silt, sand, gravel, and roadbed dislodging itself from the road and into the nearest waterway, which essentially paves over the aquatic habitat in nearby streambeds, challenging an entire ecosystem network from the foundation of its food supply.

And this is to say nothing of the slew of other problems, including other direct impacts to wildlife, habitat fragmentation, noise, emissions from vehicles, introduction of non-native species to wild habitats, and on...

If you love drinking clean water, if you love breathing clean air, if you love fishing, if you just plain love getting out into the "wild," or even if you just love knowing it's there, then it's up to you to protect it.

Because if you don't say anything, then coal, oil, natural gas, timber, biofuel, and other special-interest companies will be a larger proportion of the overall comments on Colorado's Roadless Rule and will mine it, drill it, frack it, cut it, trans-mountain-divert it, pipeline it, transmission-line through it, dam it, harvest it, haul it, burn it, ride on it, and drive over it.

Some of these, if you can believe it, purport to be "improving forest health." But only 13% of the areas proposed for protection under the Colorado Roadless Rule are at the top-tier protection level.

In my position, I hear from a lot of people who want to "make a difference." I love hearing that. And I love providing opportunities to actually do it. In fact, we sent out an action alert to all of you last month about the campaign to Save the Poudre River, and by our best tracking indicator, we were responsible for more than a full quarter of the final petition count of 5,204 petition signatures within five days! Impressive! Let's do it again... better!

Over 500 of you have already responded to our call for making comments on the Colorado Roadless Rule, so if you haven't already, please take a minute to send in your personalized comments below about protecting Colorado's wild lands, our roadless areas, because Colorado does deserve more top-tier roadless area protections.

You only have until July 14th to make your voice heard, because the 90-day comment period ends then. Make it count! And make 'em count you as well as your friends and family's voices, too -- share this newsletter or the link to the action alert with everyone you know by forwarding this in your email, Facebook, Twitter, or however you talk to your friends.

The stronger federal 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule that this newer set of Colorado-specific rules seeks to eclipse collected 1.6 million comments, the largest haul of public comments on a single policy in America's history. Even after that, believe it or not, Colorado's wild places still need every loving voice continuing to speak loud!

FEATURED ACTION: Colorado Wild Lands Need Your Voice!

Send your comments now!

Ragged Mountain
Roadless Area
(south of Glenwood Springs)

These roadless lands surround the Ragged Mountain Wilderness Area, and are leased for natural gas exploration. They offer some of the most striking views of these unique peaks. This area is treasured by hikers, skiers, mountain bikers, and outdoor sportsmen. Development of these areas could close them off to public enjoyment, causing a decline in local tourism and economies. Artist: Nelson Guda. See other areas at


Colorado has 4.4 million acres of roadless national forests. Under a Bush administration policy that was later deemed illegal, Colorado opted out of protecting these acres under the landmark Roadless Area Conservation Rule in favor of creating their own rules.

A draft of that rule governing undeveloped forests in Colorado is now available, and as written would not provide the protections that our roadless forests need in order to protect habitat and provide clean drinking water.

Submit your comment today to strengthen the rule and help keep Colorado's backcountry roadless!

Send your comments now!

Then, tell your friends to send their comments!

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FEATURED GROUP: The Poudre Canyon Group (PCG Counties: Weld and Larimer)

Sierra Club's Poudre Canyon Group earns over $2,000 implementing Zero Waste.

By Shane Davis, PCG Executive Committee Chair.

Volunteers from Larimer and Weld counties recently joined forces with a local sanitation company and the local running community to implement a "Zero Waste" program at two separate running events: The Horsetooth Half-Marathon and the Colorado Marathon, both held in Fort Collins, CO.

This was a highly successful group project, one that should serve as a practical and beneficial model for any other Sierra Club group not only in accomplishing environmental objectives, but possibly also to earn money, increase awareness by educating the public on how to implement Zero Waste at home or their business, increase stewardship, build community alliances, and ensure the impacts of organized events are minimized. PCG converted over 90% of all refuse into either recyclable or compostable matter.

Poudre Canyon Group Zero Waste Station

Poudre Canyon Group Zero Waste Results

PCG Newsletter Editor and Executive Committee member John Gascoyne said, "As folks watched our efforts, they became disinclined to just drop trash on the ground, and it became instantly fashionable to bring waste to the collection station and help sort it into the proper category."

Income to PCG:

  • $1,000 honoraria from the Colorado Marathon Organization,
  • $719 collected in tip money from New Belgium Brewery,
  • $250 honoraria from the Horsetooth Half-Marathon,
  • $250 exhibitor fee waived for the Expo.

We feel that this can serve as a very important model to assist our overall goal of protecting the planet. Please contact Shane Davis for details.

If you would like to find out more about the Poudre Canyon Group, check out their website at

If you're not in the PCG, you can check out all of the latest actions the other groups are involved with by finding your group at

Featured Volunteer Opportunity: Building a Volunteer Activist and Advocacy Organization

By Joshua Ruschhaupt, Chapter Director


Volunteers are special people. I've worked with many. The one thing they all have in common... is that every volunteer is different.

Every volunteer has a different reason for wanting to get involved, and I really enjoy hearing all of the different stories.

Just imagine the complexity of an organization such as Sierra Club, which is essentially run by volunteers, where the primary motivation is not a paycheck. It's a perfect harmony of diversity and passion coming together to fight, to support, to hold-the-line, to think... to lead. Quite literally, organized chaos. That alone scares our opponents.

Power to change usually comes in the form of either money to influence or people who influence. Money and people. Any trained community organizer will tell you this. As you're well aware (see the top-right column in this newsletter), we have limited financial resources. But we are wealthy in people nationwide.

We have many small groups, committees, and teams (and in some cases just one person) working on many different issues within the Rocky Mountain Chapter. These people are our power to change. And as Margaret Mead is thought to have said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

National and state environmental organizations envy Sierra Club for our "boots on the ground," as they say. Well, we're recruiting even more boots!

Our strength comes in the diversity of our volunteer army. We prize individuals who bring their own wealth of knowledge, skills, passions, energy, creativity, initiative, and resources to their role in Sierra Club. People who volunteer in Sierra Club fall in love and stay for decades or their entire lives. We enjoy that loyalty at Sierra Club, and we do everything in our power to make good on the promise of changing many of our world's misguided ways for a better today and a better tomorrow.

To have the capacity to make that happen, we have some high-priority volunteer positions open right now -- they need to be filled right away! We're looking for recruiters. People-persons. Folks who aren't afraid to be chatty-Kathy. We're looking for a core team of four to seven people to interview and place volunteers who sign up, and have a blast being social along the way.

This team is called the Chapter Capacity-Building Team. The team will not only interview and place new volunteers, but will also usher volunteers through a "ladder of engagement," which is fancy terminology for helping an entry-level volunteer become a volunteer leader step-by-step. Of course, if you yourself are new to the chapter's activities, you'll also be trained for a role on this team.

So, are you up for a fun challenge? Are you interested in helping build the foundation of one of Colorado's strongest environmental organizations? Your work on this team will likely have decades of ripples for making Colorado a better place!

Contact me for details ASAP!

Updated: 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 RMC chapter 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!

Outings Leaders

Colorado is a hiker's mecca. We're getting ready for a great summer and autumn full of outings. Right now, we have a task force that is searching for potential outings leaders! Is that you? Sierra Club is known for great outings with trained volunteer leaders. Let us train you to be one of them! We're looking for four to seven team leaders. Contact Michael Ledesma at for additional information.

Conservation Support Team Leaders

We're looking for specialists to serve on this new support team. If you answer yes to any ONE of the following questions, then you're probably a great fit to join the Conservation Support Team: Are you a people-person? Are you good with technology? Are you a practiced media-wrangler? Can you shape up any group of passionate people into an organized, goal-driven team? Is "coordination" practically your middle name? Are you familiar with the basic principles and practices of fundraising? Can you teach time management and workload management practices that help volunteers manage their commitments? We're looking for an entire team of people who can do any one or more of these things! We're looking for three to six leaders. If you're a "Jack or Jill of all trades," or a quick learner, we want you for this team! Sign up with Charlotte Tournay now at

Conservation Issue Team Leaders

If you want to go straight to work on a conservation issue in a leadership role, then sign up using the volunteer sign up form on our website. It lists several issues that might suit your fancy. You will be contacted by one of our volunteer coordinators. Sign-up at

Fundraising Team Leaders

As you can tell from the blurb in the top-right column of this newsletter, we're in need of more fundraising volunteers to help us reach our fundraising goals. Volunteers play a major role in making the fundraising goals, developing the strategies, and carrying out the Chapter's fundraising plans. If you are experienced with fundraising, from small contributions to working with large donors, we need your help! Even if you just want to be an assistant to learn and help out, sign up! Our team was recently reestablished, and it's not quite a full team yet, so we need more to join! We're looking for three leaders. Contact Kerry Miller at

Capacity-Building Team Leaders

The chapter recently went through an organizational design process that revealed we need a team of people who focus specifically on building chapter capacity. For lack of a better word, "capacity" in this context means leadership development and citizen engagement. This is a team that is new, but is critical to the success of the chapter. First activity: administer a membership survey. We're looking for four to seven leaders. If you're excited to try something new, contact Chapter Director Joshua Ruschhaupt at

Communications Team Leaders

The chapter is launching our priority conservation campaigns, and those campaigns will need a team of people who are focused on helping develop media strategies, and assisting the campaign teams as needed with carrying-out those strategies. "Communications" runs the gamut -- everything from traditional TV, newspaper, radio, and websites to new media such as blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. We're currently seeking three more leaders on this core team. If you are interested in serving on the Communications Team, contact Lynette Gil at

Legal Committee Leaders

The chapter is currently engaged in some legal battles, and we're looking to re-establish a Legal Committee that coordinates with our national Sierra Club lawyers, as well as our volunteer leaders who need advice in mission-related legal matters. We're looking for four to seven leaders. If you are interested in serving on the chapter's Legal Committee, contact Chapter Director Joshua Ruschhaupt at

Legislative Committee Leaders

We have a great set of current Legislative Committee members -- five total, including two former state legislators. The legislature moves fast and works on everything under the sun in Colorado, so we're recruiting up to two more leaders for this committee to learn the ropes and help prepare the chapter for the 2012 legislative session. You can check out our current legislative tracker at Contact chapter Director Joshua Ruschhaupt at

Political Committee Leaders -- FILLED

 Let us know if you're interested in political races. You can help the chapter's Political Committee gather the required information in our vetting processes for the upcoming endorsement season this fall! For state and Denver-metro area races, contact Committee Chair Jane Ard-Smith at For local races, contact your local Sierra Club group.

Donate Online

June 21st was officially the first day of summer, and our "spring" fundraiser reached 89% of our $24,000 goal.

We made this year's goal nearly double what we raised last year from the same fundraiser, and even though we didn't reach this year's goal, we couldn't have reached as far as we did without your support!

If you would like to help us get over the top with a contribution, you can make your contribution now.

Ensure a healthy environment for Colorado! Support your Rocky Mountain Chapter.

We depend on your support to do all of this great work!

Contribute on our secure website today.

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Peak and Prairie

The Peak and Prairie is the official Chapter newsletter.

You can read the current and previous issues of our printed and e-newsletter on the Chapter's
newsletter webpage.

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

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Forward this newsletter to your friends, and ask them to join as a member, too!

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Must-See Event:

Anti-Fracking Rally in Denver

"What the Frack?" Colorado Commissioners is demonstrating at the STRONGER review, at the Colorado State Land Board office.

What: A recently formed grassroots organization -- What the Frack? Commission -- will lead a demonstration of concerned citizens at the site of the STRONGER review of Colorado's oil and gas regulations. STRONGER (State Review of Oil and Gas Environmental Regulations) is a third-party national oversight panel that will review Colorado's oil and gas regulations.

When: Thursday, June 23, 2011, noon to 1:00 pm

Where: Colorado State Land Board office, 1127 Sherman St., Denver

Why: "To raise public awareness of critical issues related to fracking (safe drinking water and air quality, public health, environmental impact, water security, and quality of life) that neither STRONGER nor our Oil and Gas Commission nor our state legislators have adequately addressed to date."

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Featured Outings

Beaver Creek
(Colorado Springs area)

Moderate Backpack
Saturday-Sunday, June 25-26

Beaver Creek, on the wild south slope of Pikes Peak, is the last true wilderness canyon along the Front Range. Because of its relatively low elevation, it is ideal as an early-season get-in-shape backpack.

This five-mile, 700-foot elevation gain backpack will visit the forks of East and West Beaver Creek. Depending on participant preferences, we will either explore West Beaver Creek Canyon on Sunday morning and then return by the same route, or hike over the ridgeline to Trail Gulch, an added three miles and about 800 feet of elevation. Beginners are welcome, but this backpack is rated moderate because of distance, altitude, and several stream crossings, so bring footgear suitable for wading. Bring the ten essentials.

For more information and to sign-up, contact Jim Lockhart at 719-385-0045 or

After Work Hike, Button Rock Preserve

(Lyons area)

Easy Hike
Wednesday, June 29

Join the Indian Peaks Group for this easy evening hike in the foothills northwest of Lyons. A four-mile hike with about 500 feet of elevation gain along the Sleepy Lion Trail and service road near Ralph Price Reservoir.

Starting out on the road, we will shortly turn on to the trail which winds its way through pine forests and open meadows and then ends up back at the road at the spillway of the dam. We then will follow the road and river back to our cars.

Meet at the trailhead at 5:30pm. Take US 36 from Boulder through Lyons and turn left on CR 80 about four miles out of Lyons continue about 2.8 miles to the trailhead and parking. Bring hiking shoes, snacks or dinner, and the ten essentials.

Contact Mike Whiteley with any questions, or if you would like to carpool from Longmont, at 303-776-7396.

After Work Hike, Caribou Ranch Open Space
(Boulder area)

Easy Hike
Wednesday, July 6

Join the Indian Peaks Group for this easy evening hike up above Boulder just off of the Peak to Peak Highway. A 4.5 mile hike with little elevation change, this will be a nice walk through open meadows and stands of aspen and pine forests. Along the way there is also an old homestead as well as an old mine. The Blue Bird Mine is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a Historic District.

We will meet at the trailhead at 6pm which is off of peak to peak highway. Take 119 from Boulder to Nederland, turn right (North) on to CO 72 (Peak to Peak Hwy), go north about 1.9 miles and turn left on CR 126. Drive west about 0.9 miles to the parking area on the left.

Bring hiking shoes, food for dinner, the ten essentials. Contact Mike Whiteley with any questions or if you would like to carpool from Longmont or Boulder; 303-776-7396.

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, tent);
Repair Kit (tools, knife, cord, 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 Mike Whiteley at

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

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