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Peak and Prairie Enewsletter
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet

Newsletter of the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter

February 2012

Electronic Edition

Message from the Chapter Director,
Joshua Ruschhaupt

"We're on a roll!"

WildEarth Guardians photo of a cleared pad for coal developm
"Cleared pad for coal development
near Colorado's West Elk 
Wilderness area." Photo:
WildEarth Guardians via ENS.

There is some really great news to share with you!  We have a new member elected to the Chapter's Executive Committee (ExCom), the ExCom has ushered-in three conservation priorities for the year, and we've had victories on our legislative and legal fronts.

First, "welcome back" to three incumbents in the Chapter's Executive Committee election last fall.  Jolynn Jarbo, Chair of the Election Committee announced at our January ExCom meeting the winners of the four open seats.  The incumbents who won were Will Walters, continuing as Chapter Chair, Myrna Poticha, and Suzanna Koeller.  Welcome also to Shane Davis, who comes with experience as the Poudre Canyon Group Executive Committee's Chair.  Be sure to congratulate them if you see them!

Next, also at the January ExCom meeting, they approved two priority campaigns, and opened the door to another.  We have no shortage of issues to work on, but defending the environment and human health and welfare from the oil & gas industry is critically important.  You'll be hearing much more about this campaign this year, starting with one of our first victories, noted below.

The other approved campaign is to stop the Flaming Gorge pipeline.  You'll remember from our article in the October Peak & Prairie that we're already hard at work to stop this incredibly expensive water-grab boondoggle.

The third campaign idea was not approved, but was given a green-light to proceed with development, since at the time of the meeting it was just a proposed priority campaign idea: defend Colorado's wild and roadless lands from the Colorado roadless rule, in favor of the stronger protections of the Federal roadless rule.  The chapter has been working on this over the past decade as the roadless rules (federal and state) have been developing, and 2012 promises to be another active year on the subject.

This leads me to the final subject: recent victories! The U.S. Forest Service has rejected the Elk Creek coal mine expansion into roadless land!   

Touted by supporters of the Colorado roadless rule as a major reason why a state-based roadless rule is needed (to get around that pesky Federal roadless rule, which provides stronger protections), this mine expansion would have bulldozed flat dirt pads and roads into a roadless area like the image above for the purpose of venting dangerous methane gas into the atmosphere (a potent greenhouse gas).

So not only did we win this round against the coal industry, but we also saved 1,700 acres of roadless land from being developed, AND prevented direct methane exhaust that would have contributed to our climate change problems. 

I don't know about you, but I think it's not a "roadless" rule policy if it calls for exempting dangerous industries so they can build roads (even "temporary" ones) on Colorado's wild lands.

We had a minor victory on the path to ban e-waste from landfills.  The "Electronic Recycling Jobs Act" would help businesses establish e-waste recycling centers around the state, creating jobs, helping the economy, and keeping toxic substances out of the ground.  The bill passed with bipartisan support out of the Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Energy Committee.

Last, but certainly not least, TODAY, minutes ago, we had a HUGE victory at the Capitol, too!  SB12-088, a bill that would have set a disasterous precedent for state dominion over local governments, was resoundingly defeated in the Senate Local Government Committee.  Many thanks to our talented lobbyists, Chuck and Sol Malick, and to all of our members and supporters within the districts of the Senators serving on this Committee who responded to our recent action-alert.  

This victory means that we will continue to build a ground-swell in support to protect the environment, and human health and welfare from the hazards of the oil and gas industry.  Clearly our local governments (who were against this bill) don't believe the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, the state agency charged with protecting us from the industry, has the capacity to handle the breadth and depth of impacts from the industry.

Oh-yeah, we're on a roll! Next month, the chapter is mailing out a fundraising appeal (remember snail-mail?) so that members can support all of the important work we do.  The chapter cannot do all of this great work without your direct financial support, so if you're a member, please respond to that mailing by sending in a significant contribution for your giving budget.  If you're not a member (most members received a printed Peak & Prairie newsletter back in October), then sign-up by clicking the Join Now! button on the right, and clicking on our "Donate" button at the top-right.  

Thank you for all YOU do! 



At Large Members
Shane Davis
Will Walters
Myrna Poticha
Suzanna Koeller

Chair: Will Walters
Vice Chair: Jenny Kedward
Chair Support Team: Suzanna Koeller, Myrna Poticha, Maggie Pederson, Linda Batlin
Secretary: Betsy Kelson
Treasurer (non-voting): Jim Vandewege

NAVIGATING CAPITOL ISSUES: Attend the Colorado Conservation Community’s Lobby Day and Reception on March 13 

So – you went to the joint Audubon-Sierra Club Legislative Forum on March 10 and you’re wondering, “What’s next? What do I do now?”

Colorado flag
Join us for these lobby day event

The Rocky Mountain Chapter is sponsoring two events on March 13 which will help environmental activists familiarize themselves with the state Capitol and further engage with legislators.

The day begins with Convene for Green, the Colorado Conservation Community’s Inaugural Lobby Day event, and ends with the Conservation Community’s Annual Legislative Reception.

Convene for Green
WHEN:  March 13th 7:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
WHERE:  First Baptist,1373 Grant St., Denver
COST: Free

Legislative Reception
WHEN:  March 13th 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
WHERE:  University Club, 1673 Sherman St., Denver
COST: Free

More information...


FEATURED VOLUNTEER: Jane Ard-Smith, Political Committee Chair

Jane Ard-Smith, Hoover Dam
By Mary Coday Edwards

Not only does Jane serve the Chapter in the above-noted role, but for the last six years she’s also been Chair for the Pike’s Peak Group (PPG) in Colorado Springs.

Given Jane’s penchant for political activism, serving as Political Committee Chair was a natural step in her ongoing commitment not only to the Rocky Mountain Chapter but to Colorado’s environmental issues. 



Watch this space! We will feature inspiring stories from a different Sierra Club volunteer each month!

A Walk in the Woods: Castlewood Canyon State Park

Pikes Peak (Small), Bill Bruner
By Bill Bruner

The moments we share with the ones we love are priceless and for me sharing the beauty of the natural world with family and friends can’t be beat. Part of our family are two wonderful dogs, Sydney and Adelaide. They are Australian Cattle Dogs and we love being able to take them on adventures with us.

This month, we visited Castlewood Canyon State Park in Franktown.  To get there, take I-25 south to Founders Parkway / CO-86, go east about 12 miles, and turn south onto Castlewood Canyon Road.  This is the west entrance to the park, and there is no visitor’s center here.  You’ll need $7 cash for the entrance fee that you’ll put into an envelope at the entrance.  Park in the Westside trailhead parking lot.



Featured Group: Roaring Fork Group

By Maggie Pederson, RFG Executive Committee Chair

The Roaring Fork Group, working with Bryce Carter of the Beyond Coal Campaign, helped to prevent the Glenwood Springs City Council from entering into a 30 year contract with the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN), a wholesale electricity supply organization.

MEAN has supplied Glenwood with reliable energy for the past 10 years and the city council wanted to enter into a long term (30 year) contract. The problem with the contract was that it would not allow Glenwood to produce more than 3% of its own power locally each year during throughout that contract.

MEAN produces about 60% of its electricity from coal and Glenwood is working toward becoming a clean energy community.



For more information about the Roaring Fork Group, check out our website or contact Maggie Pedersen.

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


Legislative Committee (LegCom)

Are you a bit of a rabble rouser by nature? And are you keen to see Colorado’s wildnerness areas protected?

Colorado’s legislative session runs from January through May and the Legislative Committee needs Legislative Campaign Organizer(s).  Bills can move fast and furious through the system, and LegCom needs volunteer(s) to quickly get the word out when bills require action from our members, such as calling or emailing legislators. The campaign organizer(s) will implement a mini-campaign, developing strategy in conjunction with the LegCom and the Chapter’s legislative lobbyist, using appropriate grassroots tactics to influence the legislator(s).

If interested, send an email to RMC-LEGISLATIVE-COMM@LISTS.SIERRACLUB.ORG with “Legislative Campaign Organizer” in the subject line.

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!

Read the full list of updated volunteer opportunities...

Donate Online

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

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Pigosaurus cartoon (Panel 1), copyright Jim Anderson
Pigosaurus cartoon (Panel 2), copyright Jim Anderson
Pigosaurus cartoon (Panel 3), copyright Jim Anderson
Pigosaurus cartoon (Panel 4), copyright Jim Anderson

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

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Must-See Event: Joint Audubon-Sierra Club Legislative Forum

Colorado Capitol

Who: The Audubon Society of Greater Denver and the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Sierra Club

What: Participants in this forum will review this session's current environmental bills and discuss several of the key issues with invited experts, including legislators.

In 2012, hot topics will include the merger of the Colorado Division of Wildlife and State Parks, and possible threats to Great Outdoors Colorado. (And for the next “class” in lobbying, check out Navigating Capitol Issues.)

Saturday, March 10, 2012. 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

First Plymouth Church
3501 S. Colorado Blvd., Englewood, CO 80113  (map).

Learn about the key environmental issues facing Colorado in 2012!

$12 in advance (or $15 at the door) includes a continental breakfast and lasagna lunch.

Tickets and more information here. 

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Featured Outings

Bierstadt Lake via Mills Creek Basin and Hollowell Park, (Rocky Mountain National Park

Sat, February 18, 8:00am – 3:30pm

Join the Indian Peaks Group for this hike in Rocky Mountain National Park along Mill Creek and up the Bierstadt Moraine. At about 7 miles and about 800 feet of elevation gain, this is a moderate hike with a gradual climb up to the lake through aspen, pine, spruce and fir forests ending on top of the moraine at Bierstadt Lake.

Out of the wind hiking through the snow covered forest is one of the best ways to hike in the winter.

Bring snowshoes, water, lunch, warm clothing, and the ten essentials. Contact Mike Whiteley (303-776-7396) for more information.

Pikes Peak Snowshoe
(Horsethief Park, Pikes Peak)

Sat, February 25, 9am – 5pm

Join the Pikes Peak Group for this moderate 3-4 mile snowshoe trip to Horsethief Park on the west side of Pikes Peak. This will be an all-day trip with emphasis on learning and practicing basic snowshoe techniques while enjoying the great out-of-doors in one of our protected National Forests.

Bring lunch, water, and clothing suitable for the weather conditions. Participants will have to own or rent snowshoes and ski poles, plus suitable footwear.

If conditions warrant, the hike may be changed to a different location with better or more accessible snow.

For more information or to sign up, call Jim Lockhart at 385-0045.

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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Wish List!

Did your holiday treat you to an upgrade from your old computer?  Don't throw it out!  The RMC is waiting with open arms to receive your well-loved equipment.  As the saying goes, one person's trash is another person's treasure! If you can offer any of the following in working order, we'd be very grateful! Please do not offer anything that will take more time and/or money to repair than if we spent the money to buy it.

-Working desktops or laptops; PC desktop computers with functional screens and at least Windows 2003 as an operating system.

-Mouse pointers.

-Flat screen monitors.

-Presentation projector.

Thanks in advance! Contact Chapter Director Joshua Ruschhaupt right away!


Uncle Sam I want You

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

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