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Peak and Prairie E-newsletter
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet

Newsletter of the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter

April 2012

Electronic Edition

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



On this one year anniversary of the new Peak and Prairie e-newsletter, I think back to all of the stories, events, alerts, fundraising appeals, and issues we've highlighted over the past year.

Perhaps it's because April hosts Earth Day that I also think about all of the great work people are doing for the environment in Colorado (just witness our featured volunteer articles). We have so many problems that we, ourselves, cause, which we've created Earth Day to fix, and I'm forced to reconcile all of this in the face of bad legislation that induces yet more problems right at the earliest phase of when it's so easily possible to "get it right."

Two examples are waiting for you to take action below. It's unfortunate that one of them, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife bill, was the brainchild of legislators who took a recommendation by professionals on a well-balanced Colorado Parks and Colorado Division of Wildlife transition team, decided they didn't like it, called it a "non-starter," and proceeded to stack the deck of the composition of the new Colorado Parks and Wildlife agency with special-interest groups they want to see making parks and wildlife decisions. It's been an uphill battle for the environmental community ever since.

I sat in a hearing where this bill's sponsors heard comments from one special-interest industry representative after another who said, "you know, TWO seats on an 11 seat commission isn't enough for us -- we want THREE seats!" (Yes, I'm paraphrasing, but they said it emphatically, several times.) How can that possibly make sense to a legislator who is elected by the people to represent Colorado? It certainly confused me.

I rose to speak out that this commission is about making choices for the interests of everyone in the room, and the parks, and the wildlife, so that everyone's interests, including lands and wildlife, are met... forever. But it sounded more like everybody was fighting for a piece of the pie in front of them. I was thanked for saying that at the end of the meeting by several people, even one who sat on the former commission.

And yet, the sponsors of this bill have negotiated with several parties to fundamentally alter the composition of the recommended commission to represent industries like agriculture (three seats), sports persons (a.k.a. hunters and anglers; three seats), and people who "regularly engage in outdoor recreation and utilize parks resources" (a.k.a. people who drive motorized vehicles, run outfitting or recreation businesses, and pay fees/permits, for example; five seats).

The've even forced off the negotiating table a dedicated seat for the environmental/ wildlife/ nonprofit advocate, which existed on the past Division of Wildlife commission. It's just an afterthought to them now.

If you're the type who likes to do your homework, here's the original recommended composition(pdf). And here's the bill(pdf). You can read the incredible amount of work that went into the transition team's recommendation here(pdf).

This commission, depending on the whims of the governor du jour, could sway the composition towards heavily special-interest industry and business representatives for a majority vote on all decisions made.

Any special-interest representative with a relevant degree and "experience or expertise in multiple areas" could be appointed to the commission with a statement codified like this: "The Governor shall make appointments that ensure that a reasonable balance of the following areas of knowledge, as they relate to parks and wildlife, are represented: business, wildlife biology or science, energy, conservation, nonconsumptive wildlife uses, nonprofit organizations, off-highway vehicle use, and wildlife habitat and management."

With statements like this, could a governor appoint someone like Tisha Schuller, who has a Stanford degree in "Earth Systems," and is President and CEO of the oil & gas industry's loudspeaker, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association?" She's the most prominent energy speaker in Colorado, widely recognized as an energy "expert." By what formula does this make sense to include energy interests in a commission looking out for parks and wildlife?

Will your Senator listen to you? Use our action alerts below (don't get me started on the all-terrain vehicles bill!) to voice your concerns. The best results will come from editing our alerts with your own perspective or story for why this commission needs its integrity protected for the long-term, and why the all-terrain vehicles bill is poor governance in several ways.

As of the sending of this newsletter, there are just 21 days until the end of the 2012 legislative session. How will your Senator use it? Will s/he: 1) push to amend the parks and wildlife bill to respect the recommendation of the transition team? 2) delay the vote until next year, effectively keeping a well-balanced existing commission as a hedge against this bad bill? or 3) ignore you and vote for a bill that has the potential to govern via special interests?

You are not one person, you are joining likely hundreds of others who will speak out about these bad bills, organized by the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter. Let's speak up together!

FEATURED ACTION:Protect Colorado's Parks and Wildlife (Round Two on HB12-1317)

By Mary Coday Edwards


New Colorado Parks and Wildlife Logo

Colorado Take Action Button

In March's e-newsletter, we urged you to contact your State House Representative. Unfortunately, this bill continues to survive in the conservative-controlled House, and is heading to the Senate, where its Senate sponsor supports this latest compromised commission.

Tell your State Senator to support the original Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission's recommended composition, which better balances the perspectives of the various stakeholders who care about state parks and wildlife populations.

Read more, or take action!

FEATURED ACTION: State forcing counties to open their roads to all-terrain vehicles?

By Mary Coday Edwards

Don't give all-terrain
vehicles access to
closed terrain via
paved county roads!


Take Action
The Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter, along with environmental groups across the state, opposes HB12-1066 because it makes management and law enforcement of all-terrain vehicles on public lands, such as national forests, next to impossible. Many county roads cross the boundary into Forest Service or BLM roads, and on these public lands there are many areas prohibited to vehicles. In addition, HB12-1066 would strip counties and towns of their ability to regulate these vehicles in their jurisdictions, and needlessly endangers riders by putting them on roads shared with SUVs and industrial trucks.

The bill is on its way to the Senate; tell your Senator to vote against HB12-1066. Tell them you do not want Colorado's natural heritage to be the sacrificial offering to special interest groups such as all-terrain vehicle dealerships and associations.

Take action!

Featured Volunteer: Myrna Poticha, Co-Chair of the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter

By Mary Coday Edwards

Myrna Poticha 
Myrna's been a Sierra Club member for some time, but 20 years ago Mike Mueller and Club mainstay Charlie Oriez urged her to channel more of her environmental activism into the Club's priorities.

Involved ever since - Myrna is also a member of the Legislative, Political, Administrative, Personnel and Membership Committees - she continues to remain committed because “it is effective. The Sierra Club commands respect, even from our opponents, because of its reputation for winning environmental battles."



Watch this space! Next month's featured volunteer will be Ross Vincent, Chair of the Sangre de Cristo Group.

OIL & GAS IN EL PASO COUNTY AND COLORADO SPRINGS: A Future Vision for the Banning-Lewis Ranch

Public meeting of the Sierra Club, Pikes Peak Group

Scott Harvey, a member of the Colorado Springs Green Cities Coalition Steering Committee, will present the Coalition's vision for all types of development which may eventually occur in the area formerly known as the Banning-Lewis Ranch, with properties in El Paso County and Colorado Springs.

The Coalition's vision will include "extremely clean" oil and gas development, residential and business development, and other entities like schools, and city and county services and offices. A primary part of the Coalition's vision will involve oil and gas as this is currently a "hot topic" for many local residents, and the presentation will include details on the Coalition's view on how "extremely clean" oil and gas development can occur close to – and within - Colorado Springs.

A question and answer period will follow Mr. Harvey's presentation.

Thursday, April 19th, 7:00 - 9:00 PM.

Colorado Parks & Wildlife Office, 4255 Sinton Rd., Colorado Springs (map).


A Walk in the Woods: Spruce Mountain

By Bill Bruner

Pine Forest, Bill Bruner

When I take the time to walk in the woods, to me, is an exploration of myself, because, no matter how busy the world seems, I reconnect with who I truly am.

I take the time to appreciate the beauty that the natural world holds for me, and I understand the glory of watching a hawk soar. I know that through nature we are all connected.

Each journey I've embarked on is unique in its own way. I hope that the joy I find in each hike inspires you to get out and enjoy everything the natural world has to explore.

This month's hike is Spruce Mountain.


Devolution, by Jim Anderson
Click to enlarge...

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 volunteer opportunities...

In this issue:
  • Director's Message
  • Alert: Parks & Wildlife, Round 2
  • Alert: All-Terrain Vehicles
  • Featured Volunteer: Myrna Poticha
  • Colorado Springs Event
  • Hike: Spruce Mountain
  • "True" Tales of Eco-Disaster Comic
  • Volunteer Leadership Openings
  • Sidebar:
    • Donate!
    • P&P Archive
    • Be a member!
    • Facebook
    • Must-See Event
    • Featured Outing
    • Wish List
    • Story Idea?

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Donate online!


Last month, members received a letter in the mail telling about our critical work here in Colorado and asking for your support.

Even if you're not an official Sierra Club member, we cannot do this work without your financial support.

Please support your
Rocky Mountain Chapter.

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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Join the Sierra Club

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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Like us on Facebook now!

Become a fan of the
Rocky Mountain Chapter on Facebook and get our latest updates and relevant news. We just surpassed 480 new Facebook friends!

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Must-See Event: Pikes Peak Recycles


Who: Residents of El Paso County

What: Join the Pikes Peak Group of the Sierra Club and Pikes Peak Earth Day for the annual Pikes Peak Recycles event.

Keep your old electronics, batteries, household chemicals, and other household hazardous wastes out of the landfill – gather them up and bring them to the El Paso County Household Hazardous Waste Facility to be recycled and disposed of properly!

This free event is sponsored by the Sierra Club. Optional donations will benefit the Pikes Peak Earth Day Grant.

Saturday, April 21, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

El Paso County Household Hazardous Waste Facility, 3255 Akers Drive, Colorado Springs (map).

Earth Day is just around the corner, so celebrate by keeping your hazardous materials out of the landfill! And it's free!

Get more information...

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Featured Outings

Beaver Creek State Wildlife Area - Day Hike

Saturday, May 12
8:30 AM - 3:30 PM

Join Pikes Peak Group for a springtime hike along Beaver Creek and up into the adjoining Table Mountain State Wildlife Area.

In addition to the Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area, Beaver Creek contains a State Wildlife Area along the creek. Learn how these three protected areas worth together to provide habitat on the wild South Slope of Pikes Peak.

This will be a moderate hike of approximately 4 miles with 600 feet elevation gain.

For more information and to sign up, contact Jim Lockhart (385-0045).


Attention Gay and Lesbian (GLS) Sierrans!

White Ranch Figure 8 Jefferson County, CO - Day Hike

Sunday, April 29th, 2012
9:00am - mid-afternoon

Join GLS for this early-season hike in the foothills, where the terrain includes ponderosa parkland, meadows, conifer forest, and rocky outcrops.

This figure-8 route on the south side of the park is 6 miles with approximately 850 feet cumulative elevation gain, giving the hike an easy-moderate rating.

The trail generally descends for the first 3 miles, and then ascends continuously to the lunch spot, rather steeply for the last half-mile. After lunch it's downhill back to the trailhead.

The hiking pace will be moderate. Bring the ten essentials.

The outing is limited to 12 participants. For more information and to sign up, e-mail Kate at You must provide your telephone number in order to get on the roster.

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!

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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

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Header Photo Credit: Communications Team volunteer Bill Bruner.