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Peak and Prairie Enewsletter

Newsletter of the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter

January 2013

Electronic Edition

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

"Another year bites the dust."

CO Capitol Batty Grin - Jim Anderson

Colorado Capitol Batty Grin, 
by James Anderson 

Happy New Year!  2013 is shaping up to be the year of anti-frack comeback!  As the environmental community, from citizen-groups that have recently formed, to state, national, and international non-profits, we are on the march!

In fact, the RMC is now hiring for a position to organize communities on oil & gas and other conservation issues throughout Colorado.  We're very excited to finally have a brightening financial position to be hiring for our second staff position (mine being the other).  As I've mentioned before, we're expanding, and that includes volunteer capacity, too!

Very soon, we will be redesigning our website, so keep an eye open for that, and we are ecstatic at having the expertise of Robin Jones, our new volunteer webmaster, to make this happen.  Welcome, Robin!

We're also happy to have Lauren Swain, already volunteering on the Communications Team and Oil & Gas Team, join our Legislative Committee to integrate the Oil & Gas Team's efforts in our legislative work.  She joins Myrna Poticha, Kirk Cunningham, Becky English, and the Committee Chair, Mary Edwards.

As you may already know, the Colorado legislative session runs from mid-January through mid-May, and these few months of the year are a whirlwind of activity at the Capitol.  As such, I've asked Mary to provide you a special update on the legislative session as we see it now, so that you're armed with the information to help Colorado legislators get this session off to a positive, progressive, start.  Enjoy Mary's guest commentary.  

And don't miss out on attending our annual Legislative Forum!  See the event article below, and buy your tickets now!

Warm regards, 

Joshua Ruschhaupt, Rocky Mountain Chapter Director

By Mary Coday Edwards
Chair, RMC Legislative Committee 

The 69th Colorado General Assembly convened on Wednesday, January 9. What’s in store for environmentalists this session? 

Consuming a lot of energy from activists and homeowners statewide are the antics of the oil and gas industry as it continues to develop hydraulic fracturing (fracking) with disregard for and impunity from its impacts on the health and safety of humans and the natural environment due to its drilling and extraction processes. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) – with its conflicting, two-pronged mission “to foster the responsible development of Colorado’s oil and gas natural resources … in a manner consistent with the protection of public health, safety and welfare” – is in the midst of creating new rules for fracking.  

Meanwhile, back at the Capitol, legislative members are listening to their constituents.  Several bills related to oil and gas issues are slated to be introduced this session. The Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter plans to introduce a bill which will close a COGCC “setback loophole”. Current COGCC rules allow the oil and gas industry to re-enter/redrill wells that are closer to residential structures than the 350-foot setback required for new well bores. Sponsors and language have yet to be finalized for RMC’s bill; we will keep you informed of its development. 

Other items on RMC’s radar include HB13-1044, titled “Concerning the Authorization of the Use of Graywater” and issues related to energy efficiency, electric vehicles and renewable energy.  For example, while methane is one of the more harmful greenhouse gases and it should indeed be captured as it escapes from coal mines, some legislators want to include this captured gas under Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standard, thus qualifying it for tax credits (and as we all know – the fossil fuel industry certainly needs more taxpayer subsidies). We fought this last year and won but some things die hard; it’s reared its head again as SB13-003, “Concerning Methane Gas Captured From Active and Inactive Coal Mines.” It’s rumored that other saner, more palatable methane-capture bills are forthcoming – watch this space for updates. 

While Democrats dominate both houses, powerful business interests continue to labor behind the scenes, whittling away at laws designed to safeguard Colorado’s natural heritage. RMC’s Legislative Committee depends on our members to help us preserve and protect what we as a Club cherish. We need volunteers who are willing to analyze and respond to bills on a short notice, as well as to assist in alerting our members to contact their elected officials to promote or kill a bill. Contact me at if either appeals to your environmental proclivities.

2012 election long, hard campaign

By Jane Ard-Smith

RMC Political Chair
I’ve hesitated writing this wrap-up article because even for a political junkie like me, it was a long, hard campaign season. Now that some time has passed, I’ve recovered enough to look back and assess the results. So how’d the Sierra Club do with its endorsements?


New RMC ExCom leaders named

By JoLynn Jarboe

I would like to thank the seven candidates who ran for the office of at large Executive Committee board member for the Rocky Mountain Chapter (RMC). Three positions were open. Congratulations to Becky English, Delia Malone, and Allison Gallensky who will be seated at the Jan. 12 board meeting (see October print newsletter for bios). 

Many thanks to Bill Bruner, Morgan Crowley, Dave Bryan, and Bryan Martin for their willingness to serve in this capacity. Please consider offering your talents and services to the RMC in any other capacity of your choice. Good people are always needed for a variety of assignments.

Additional thanks go to Kathleen Butler and Wende Reoch, members of the Elections Committee who counted the ballots and verified the results.

Many thanks also go to the hardworking Nominations Committee: Angela Medbury, Kirby Hughes, Suzanna Koeller, and John Gascoyne. This committee encouraged the above candidates to run, giving all club members a good slate from which to choose as well as exposing excellent talent within the club.

Great job all around to everyone.

Legislative Forum to feature Colorado’s hot legislative issues for 2013

Buy Tickets

If you are interested in learning more about legislative issues in Colorado, the best place to do that is our annual Legislative Forum to be held in Denver on Saturday, March 2. Co-sponsored by Sierra Club’s Rocky Mountain Chapter and the Audubon Society of Greater Denver, the event will feature legislators, lobbyists and experts on various topic areas being addressed in the 2013 legislative session.

When: Saturday, March 2, 2013. 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 

Where: First Plymouth Church, 3501 S. Colorado Blvd., Denver (SW corner of Colorado and Hampden)


Sierra Club celebrates two decades of GOCO success

Noted photographer John Fielder is keynote speaker

By Carol Carpenter
RMC Communications Team

In early December more than 150 Sierra Club, Clean Water Action (CWA) and other environmental activists and supporters celebrated the 20-year anniversary of using Colorado lottery funds to preserve and enhance the state’s natural environment. The occasion also commemorated the 40-year anniversary of the Clean Water Act.

Fielder and Read.jpg
Noted Colorado photographer John Fielder, left,
presents one of his outdoors photo books with
Sierra Club Fundraising Chair Dave Read, who
helped coordinate the GOCO event.


New COGCC fracking rules fail to protect public from toxic air and water pollution
By Lauren Swain
RMC Oil & Gas Campaign
Communications Specialist

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conversation Committee (COGCC) recently completed three days of hearings on proposed new rules governing hydraulic fracturing (fracking) practices in Colorado. 

The commission adopted its heavily-criticized groundwater testing program and gave preliminary approval to new setback rules requiring that, with some exceptions, wells be sited at least 500 feet from homes and 1000 feet from high-occupancy buildings such as schools and hospitals. Previously, the state required setbacks of only 350 feet in urban areas and 150 feet in rural areas.  The new rules will apply equally in all areas.


Marchers to push for strong leadership on climate change

All Sierra Club members and friends are encouraged to take part in an exciting event next month in Washington, D.C.─the Climate Legacy Action march.

Sierra Club and 350.0rg are cosponsoring this march on President’s Day weekend, Sunday, Feb. 17, to form a massive human pipeline to tell President Obama that we expect leadership on climate change, beginning with a rejection of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.’s mission is to build a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. Its online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions are led from the bottom up by thousands of volunteer organizers in over 188 countries.

A joint Sierra Club/ announcement states the President has “just four years left to provide the leadership we need to stop climate change that is causing extreme weather like Hurricane Sandy, and Keystone XL is the first test of whether he's up for the job.”
The release further states the President will decide this spring whether to build the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which will carry 830,000 barrels a day of the “dirtiest oil on earth for export.”
Register today!

PCG activist finds service in a ‘fragile and threatened environment’

By Carol Carpenter
RMC Communications Team

John Gascoyne.jpg
“At some point in a full lifetime, it is easier to contemplate the past in terms of decades rather than years. Or, at least, so it seems,” stated John Gascoyne, a Rocky Mountain Chapter Executive Committee (ExCom) and Poudre Canyon Group (PCG) member.

As he looks back at his longtime Colorado Sierra Club volunteer activities, there were three or so decades where social justice issues dominated John’s interest and available time.


 University students promote Sierra Club in Denver

Ken and Isaac
University of Colorado at Denver student, Isaac River, left, accepts a Sierra Club brochure from another CU student Kenneth Kass. Ken helped Sierra Club volunteers with a four-day tabling event at CU Denver in November to disseminate information to students about fracking and other environmental issues. The event was also successful in gathering student interest in other Sierra Club activities, including the possible formation of a new RMC Denver Metro Network in 2013.

Hiking in Merry Olde England─a walk in the park?

By Deirdre Butler
RMC Hiking Leader
“I’m out of water,” gasped the hapless hiker well into our lengthy coast-to-coast walk in England. Despite strong instructions to carry four pints of water, he sheepishly admitted that the one pint he brought was gone. This was the catalyst to get admissions from several other guilty participants who were similarly depleted. With four miles to go and 1,500 feet to climb, half the group was thirsty and struggling.
Outings Photo Hiking in England Jan P&P.jpg


lost in dessert toon.jpg
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Facebook Photo Contest

To submit your entry for the next Facebook Photo Contest, please visit us at

Congratulations Zihang Xu, his photo is the winner of our November Facebook Photo Contest. The photo was taken in Si Chuan province in China, where pilgrims (generally Buddhists) are on a thousand mile journey to the monastery to worship.

November Photo Contest winnder - Zihang Xu

Congratulations to Thomas O'Brien! His photo, ‘Midnight Autumn colors of Kebler Pass, Colorado,” was the winner of our October Facebook Photo Contest.

Thomas O'Brien October Photo Contest Winner-1.jpg

Updated: Volunteer Leadership Openings!


If, after reading through the available roles, 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 launching, 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 organize, or help an organizer 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

Communications Team Leaders 

The Communications Team is currently very strong, however, they are looking for reporters, 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. Check out our ad on Craigslist for a volunteer webmaster. The Communications Team is also seeking reporters to help develop content for our digital and print communications (including this newsletter!). Contact the Communications Team at

Outings Leaders

Colorado is a hiker's mecca. We're looking for a few more core-team leaders, and several outings leaders.  Are these you? Sierra Club is known for great outings with trained volunteer leaders. Let us train you to be one of them! Contact Mike Whiteley at for additional information.

Continue reading the list of available volunteer opportunities...

In this issue:
  • Director's Message
  • 2012 election recap
  • New ExCom leaders named
  • Legislative Forum
  • Sierra Club celebrates GOCO success
  • New COGCC fracking rules
  • Marchers to push for climate leadership
  • Featured Volunteer: John Gascoyne
  • Hiking in England
  • "True" Tales of Eco-Disaster Comic
  • Facebook photo contest
  • Volunteer Leadership Openings
  • Sidebar:
    • Donate!
    • P&P Archive
    • Be a member!
    • Facebook
    • Must-See Event
    • Featured Outings
    • Wish List
    • Story Idea?
    • Photo Contest!

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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.

Here's a testimonial 
from Robert Eidsmoe,

40-year giver to
Sierra Club! 

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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 to get our latest updates and relevant news, or Meetup to join our latest activities, activism, and advocacy events. We're on Twitter, too!

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Must-See Event:
Energy Consumer Empowerment Workshop

Electric Bill
Do you know why your
utility bill keeps going

WHO: Co-sponsored by Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter,, Clean Energy Action, and other faith-based, social justice, and conservation groups.

Energy Consumer Empowerment Workshop, featuring Senator Morgan Carroll.

Learn About:

  • How Xcel is Manipulating the System to Drive Up Their Record-Breaking Profits - and Your Electric Bills
  • Why Your Utility Bill keeps Going Up and What You Can Do About It
  • How Dirty Energy is Driving Up Our Electric Costs
  • The Connection Between our Energy Use and Extreme Weather Events
  • How to Impact Policy that Impacts You and Your Family
  • How to Lobby Legislators and Other Elected Officials

WHEN: Saturday, January 26, 2013, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Conference Room, 3245 Eliot St., Denver, CO 80211 

WHY: Colorado's energy policies impact your pocketbook. Find out what you can do about it!
RSVP today! 

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Featured Outings

Easy Cross-Country Ski

Pikes Peak region

Saturday, January 26, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This will be a short cross country ski over easy terrain, a perfect start to the ski season. The trip will emphasize practicing cross-country ski techniques, and we will go to the best available snow in the Pikes Peak vicinity.

Total distance covered will be approximately 3 miles.

Bring a lunch, water, clothing suitable for weather conditions, and cross-country ski equipment.

For details or to sign up, call Jim Lockhart at 385-0045 or e-mail

Pikes Peak Group Inning


Saturday, January 26, 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

The "Inning" (the opposite of an "outing") is our annual post-Holidays party. This is a perfect opportunity to meet Pikes Peak Group members and to share your outdoor experiences. It is a "snacks and drinks" potluck, so bring your favorite items to share.

We’re planning a picture show, so bring your latest disks, slides, and pictures of your trips and outdoor adventures in 2012.

The Inning will be held at John and Carol Stansfields' home.

For further information or directions, contact John and Carol by phone (303-660-5849) or e-mail.

Paul Intemann Trail

Manitou Springs

Saturday, February 16, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This great trail connects with  Section 16 or with Red Rocks Open Spaces trails. The Intemann trail connects Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs with good views and enough up and down to keep your interest.

The website for the Intemann Trail offers good information including a history of the trail. We will access the trail from the Section 16 trailhead on Lower Gold Camp Road.

For more information or to sign up for the hike please email Bob Wagstaff at

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 or without functional screens and at minimum Windows 2003 as an operating system, XP preferred.

-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

Enter the photo contest!

Did you know that we have a monthly photo contest? The theme for the January contest is "Winter Wonderland."  Submit your best water photo today!

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

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