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

Newsletter of the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter

July 2012

Electronic Edition

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

"An Exciting Summer!"

L to R: Mary Edwards, Chuck Malick, and Becky English

Flanking our lobbyist Chuck Malick
Legislative Committee

members Mary Edwards (L), and
Becky English (R).  Chuck
holding the resolution of 
appreciation, passed by the 
RMC Executive Committee.

There is a lot going on this summer- it's exciting!

This month, I am happy to report that we are moving forward on preparations for the 2013 legislative session.  Take a look at the story below by our Legislative Committee Chair, Mary Edwards.  

Before we began planning for next year, we took a moment to thank our contract lobbyists Chuck and Sol Malick for their hard work.  These guys fight hard, build alliances at a moment's notice, and practically live at the Capitol from January through May during the legislative session on our behalf.  Granted, we're only one of their clients, but they show us great respect by working smartly to fight hard for our positions on bills in Colorado's polarized political climate.  This month, the Legislative Committee and the Executive Committee conferred a resolution expressing our gratitude.  

In a long-term battle between the current custodians of the Roan Plateau: the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the oil & gas industry, and several environmental organizations including Sierra Club and Earthjustice representing us in court, we've won a great victory, breathing life back into this threatened biological jewel.  Don't miss the great story below by Laruen Swain about this!

Key Volunteer Openings
If you or someone you know has political experience, and a passion for fighting the oil & gas industry's aweful practices, perhaps a former city or county elected official or staffperson, we are currently seeking a volunteer for a critical role on our oil & gas team:  Regulatory, Political & Industrial Coordinator. For details, contact me.  Also contact me if you know of a webmaster who knows HTML and Drupal, who might be interested in volunteering.  Lastly, take a look at the "Step Strong, Save our Lands Hike-a-thon" Must See Event in the right-hand column... Fundraising Chair Dave Read is looking for volunteers to help out (and you get a discount on participation)!

Ski Area Expansion Threatens Wilderness
On another battle-front, one in which we hope you will get involved by submitting your own comments, the Forest Service is now accepting preliminary scoping comments on the proposed Eldora Ski Area expansion (Boulder County, near Nederland). 

The expansion of ski lifts and runs beyond current boundaries to Jenny Creek and Middle Boulder Creek will fragment wildlife habitat and impact riparian areas, as well as disturb backcountry visitors in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. 

We encourage you to attend one of the two public open houses that will be held today, Wednesday, July 18, at the Boulder Ranger District, 2140 Yarmouth Ave., Boulder, or tomorrow, Thursday, July 19, at the Nederland Community Center, 750 Highway 72. Both are 5-8 PM.  Your comments will be used to focus the analysis of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  We're sending out an action alert later this week to the local region, so keep an eye open for this important email.

Heather Zichal visit to the Alliance Center

L to R: Joshua Ruschhaupt, Bryce
Carter of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal
 and Heather Zichal. 

Obama Cares
The latest news is that the environmental community had an unexpected and welcome meeting with a White House official last week!  Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, wanted to hear from us about what we're working on, and what's important in Colorado right now.  

I, of course, brought up oil & gas federal law exemptions, which resulted in a response that she thinks the subject may be a post-election action, depending on the make-up of the new congress.  I also brought up Browns Canyon, Chimney Rock, and Utah Canyonlands as extremely important to make them new national monuments.  She seemed interested, and I hope to hear that it translates to action before the election on at least one of them.

Stay tuned!

Joshua Ruschhaupt, Rocky Mountain Chapter Director
P.S. If you haven't yet, sign-up to see if solar is right for you!  Read the solar story below, and follow the link to sign-up for a free online estimate to go solar!  

Solar home program prompts reader questions

By Carol Carpenter

Go Solar with Sierra Club

Our report in the June edition of the Peak and Prairie newsletter, “’Rooftop Revolution’ offers affordable solar power for your home”, invited Sierra Club members to go solar with the new Sierra Club Solar Homes campaign in Colorado.

In partnership with Sungevity Solar Home Specialists, the campaign provides single family homeowners an affordable way to go solar, including a free emailed solar evaluation. This is a great way to be part of the energy solution in Colorado. Every solar home is the equivalent of taking 1.5 cars off the road, which translates to cleaner air, water, and land when you consider the coal and natural gas alternatives that define your energy company’s primary sources of energy.


Update on Colorado’s 2013 Legislative Session

Colorado CapitolBy Mary Coday Edwards
Legislative Committee Chair

Yes,”2013” is not a mistake. The Sierra Club Rocky MountaIn Chapter (RMC), along with Colorado’s environmental community, has begun strategizing for the 2013 session.

Along with developing legislative priorities, discussions also focused on Colorado’s upcoming November state general elections, when voters will choose House members and for up to 50 percent of the Senate. Whoever wins this fall will have much to say over what happens to Colorado’s natural environment: Will the extractors and polluters be victorious, or will it be those who, inspired by nature, protect our communities and planet?


Thank Rep. Polis for Protecting Schools from Fracking Air Pollution
Take Action!\

We urge Sierra Club members to thank Colorado Representative Jared Polis, (D-Boulder), for his effort to reduce children’s exposure to air pollution caused by hydraulic fracturing, (aka fracking), of oil & gas wells.

On June 20, Rep. Polis introduced an amendment to the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act (HB-4480) which would have required fracking wells to be sited at least 1,000 feet from schools.  Although the amendment was defeated, it is important that we voice our support for Polis’ work toward reducing risk to children and communities.

Click here to take action!

New Court Ruling Gives Pristine Roan Plateau a Second Chance

By Lauren Swain

Roan Plateau


DENVER- On Friday, June 22, U.S. District Judge Marcia S. Krieger set aside a 2007 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plan that would have allowed oil and gas companies to drill thousands of wells on 55,000 acres of the Roan Plateau.

The majestic cliffs of the plateau rise 3,500 feet above the Colorado River, and stretch along the north side of 1-70 from Rifle to Grand Junction. The Roan is one of the few oases of scenic beauty and solitude remaining amidst the industrial desert of oil and gas drilling which surrounds its base.


Colorado Roadless Rule Update

On July 3, the Forest Service established an unfortunate precedent with its decision to uphold most of the Colorado Roadless Rule. This decision allows Colorado to maintain a state-specific management plan for approximately 4.2 million acres of roadless lands, while sidestepping some of the requirements of the federal plan that applies to 48 other states.

While the Colorado plan actually includes more stringent protections for some “top-tier” areas, many of our roadless areas remain at risk for fossil-fuel extraction, water development, and logging that would prohibited under the federal plan.

The Forest Service record of decision can be found at this link.

For more information about the decade-long process leading up to this decision, please refer to
our previous article on the subject.

Oil & Gas Mythbusters

By Lauren Swain
RMC Oil & Gas Communications Specialist

Oil & Gas Myth #3:

Gas Rig

“Well bores are constructed to be safe and impermeable, thus preventing well-water and aquifer contamination.”


A portion of well bores have proven to fail, both initially and over time, and spills related to drilling practices are also a documented source of groundwater contamination.


Solar Homes Banner

Colorado mine tour promotes environmental activism in Africa

By Carol Carpenter

Mine tour photoIn late April four Colorado environmentalists and a small delegation from the African Republic of Senegal toured open-pit gold-mining operations and nearby public forest lands near Victor, Colo. Kirby Hughes, Sierra Club’s chairperson for mining issues in Colorado, determined that the event was “categorically, a success.”

“It was a lot of fun meeting such interesting and well-educated individuals from Senegal,” Hughes said. “They came here to learn how environmentalists work in the U.S., and how they could promote what we do here, in Senegal.”


Kirby Hughes
Co-Chair, Rocky Mountain Chapter Conservation Advisory Committee

By Mary Coday Edwards

Kirby Hughes - 2A resident of Colorado Springs for 35 years, Kirby considers himself a “relative newcomer” to the environmental movement. Joining the Sierra Club in 1990, Kirby became frustrated with the “’system’, which didn’t provide many avenues for the beginning environmentalist to protect our planet.”


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

Two Easy High Alpine Hikes
Ute Trail, RMNP

By Mike Whiteley
Sierra Club RMC Outings Team

Ute Trail, RMNPOne of the best things I like to do during the hot summer months is to hike above the tree line where, not only are the views spectacular, but it is always cooler. In Colorado we are fortunate to have relatively easy access to numerous high altitude locations.

Although many of these sites require a lot of work to get to - up long, steep trails - the Ute Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) has one of the easiest accesses to high alpine terrain that I have found as you can drive above the tree line to the trail’s beginning, saving yourself the effort of hiking there.


Where the Buffalo Roam...
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!

Priority Conservation Campaign: Oil & Gas Campaign

The Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter's most organized campaign is getting ready to launch soon, and you can help!  We're working on recruiting the few final candidates for the core leadership team, and we're also looking for volunteers throughout the state who can lead, or help a leader with organizing in your home, city, town, or rural area.  The goal is to build a network of volunteers throughout the state who learn about the industry, its practices, and what you can do about it locally.  Sign up with Joshua Ruschhaupt at

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? Are you willing to be trained on any of the above?  We're looking people who can do any 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 Joshua Ruschhaupt at

Communications Team Leaders 

The Communications Team is currently very strong, however, they are looking for a webmaster and a social media specialist.  Depending on your level of experience, skillsets, interests, and available time, some of the above can be combined into one volunteer role.  Contact them at

Legislative Committee Leaders

We have a great set of current Legislative Committee members.  The legislature moves fast and works on everything under the sun in Colorado, so we're recruiting a few more leaders for this committee to learn the ropes.  You can check out our current legislative tracker at Contact this committee at

Continue reading the list of volunteer opportunities...

In this issue:
  • Director's Message
  • Go Solar!
  • Legislative Update
  • Roan Plateau Ruling
  • Roadless Rule Update
  • Oil & Gas Mythbusters
  • Colo. Mine Tour Promotes Activism in Africa
  • Featured Volunteer:
    Kirby Hughes
  • Two Easy Alpine Hikes
  • "True" Tales of Eco-Disaster Comic
  • Volunteer Leadership Openings
  • Sidebar:
    • Donate!
    • P&P Archive
    • Be a member!
    • Facebook
    • Must-See Event
    • Featured Outings
    • Wish List
    • Story Idea?

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Donate online!

Support the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter's Oil & Gas campaign by making a contribution right now.  

We depend on your support to do all of our 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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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 800 new Facebook friends!

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Must-See Event:
 Step Strong, Save Our Lands Hike-A-Thon


What: We will hike the scenic trails of Roxborough State Park, which offers four levels of hiking experience from which to choose.

From easy to challenging, the hike offers spectacular views of red rock and sandstone formations and diverse, spectacular flora and fauna.

When: Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where:  Roxborough State Park

Why: Combine your love of hiking with taking action to save the environment.

Also, you can compete for awesome prizes such as a night’s stay at a mountain resort or bed and breakfast, zip-line adventure, outdoor gear or passes to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.

How: Choose the trails and amount of hiking you want to do. Then use the pledge form
to get donations or pledges for each mile you hike.
Click here for more information, and get your tickets today! 

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Featured Outings

The Crags - Military Spouses and Caregivers

Saturday, June 23

Located on the west side of Pikes Peak, the Crags are spires of rock formed from pink Pikes Peak granite. Dating from Precambrian times, they are a unique geological treasure in Colorado that few people get to see.

The hike is 5 miles roundtrip with 700 feet of elevation gain: an "easy" hike. Though this hike is open to all Sierra Club members and supporters, it is a special invitation to military service men and women, their families and caregivers to enjoy the outdoors together.

Please bring hiking shoes, rain gear, water, lunch, sunglasses and sunscreen.

Contact Mike Whiteley to sign up (303-776-7396).

Sunset Paddling
Lake Macintosh

Sunday, July 22

Join us for an evening of easy paddling on Lake Macintosh in Longmont. We will meet at the lake at about 6pm and paddle in canoes or kayaks, 1-2 laps around the lake at your own pace.

The lake is in the northwest corner of Longmont with wonderful views of Longs Peak.

You do not need any paddling experience but you should know how to swim.

Bring a boat, paddles, PFD, water, snack or dinner, sunglasses, sunscreen, hat and bug spray.

Contact Mike Whiteley (303-776-7396) to sign up and reserve a boat.

South Arapaho Peak Hike
Indian Peaks Wilderness Boulder County

Gay and Lesbian Sierrans (GLS)

Sunday, August 5

Join GLS for a challenging but rewarding hike in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. We'll start at 10,172' and then climb up to the Arapahoe Glacier Overlook, where we'll pause to admire the largest glacier in Colorado (and a major source of Boulder's water). From there, we'll scramble up a loose talus field to the top of South Arapaho Peak (13,397').

The hike is rated strenuous with a total round trip distance of 8.9 miles and about 3,225 net elevation gain. The hiking pace will be moderate. Bring water, snacks & lunch, warm clothing layers, rain gear, and sun protection. Sturdy footwear is recommended.

We will depart the meeting place at 6:30 AM and return by mid-afternoon. After the hike, there will be an option to stop in Boulder for refreshment.

The outing is limited to 12 participants. For more information and to sign up, e-mail Jennie.

To get on the roster, please provide a phone number at which you can be reached on the morning of the hike.

Happy Hour in the Hills

Reynolds Park

Friday, August 10
4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

What better way to celebrate summer than by spending your Friday evenings hiking the foothills instead of being stuck in some bar?

We'll spend two Fridays a month (through September) out in the foothills on short hikes that range in distance between 2 and 4 miles round-trip. This hike is 2.5 miles round-trip with an elevation gain of 360 feet.

This hike will lead us to the Raven's Roost and will cross a seasonal stream several times. This hike is rated easy, and will have several stops so that we can chat and get to know one another because it IS happy hour after all!

For more information and to register, contact Colleen Finnerty (303-388-1058) by 10:00 a.m. on July 26.

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 desktop or laptop; PC computers with functional screens and at minimum Windows 2003 as an operating system.

-Mouse pointers.

-Flat screen monitors.

-Portable projection screen.

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

Beautiful Photos to Share?

If you have a penchant for photography, and you want to share, PLEASE post your photos to the Chapter's Facebook page!  It's summer in Colorado, and everyone would LOVE to see your visions of a beautiful Colorado (or anywhere you've been sauntering for scenery)! We might feature yours at the top of our Facebook wall!

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Header Photo Credit: Communications Team volunteer Bill Bruner.