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Peak and Prairie E-newsletter

Newsletter of the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter

July 2013

Electronic Edition

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

What do we want?

Image of Aspen fracking protest by Andrea Tudhope.

7/13 at the Democratic 
Governors Association's 2013
Summer Policy Conference.
Image of Aspen fracking
protest by Andrea Tudhope
of the Colorado Independent.

We want industry to "keep the frack out of our water... and air."

Our Beyond Oil and Gas Team organized with a coalition of other organizations to rally at the Democratic Governors Association, asking the Governors to pay attention to their citizens and reduce and remove the impacts of fracking and other oil and gas drilling operations in favor of a renewable energy future.

The activities generated some great media attention, and apparently flustered Governor Hickenlooper when we put him on the spot.  However, Washington Governor Jay Inslee made a much better impression with his "rousing" response to similar questions.  Special thanks to RMC Beyond Oil and Gas Team volunteer leader Neshama Abraham for co-organizing and attending this multifaceted event with the coalition!

And while Governor Hickenlooper's administration decides to join a lawsuit against Longmont for their citizen initiative to ban fracking within city limits, Fort Collins decides to put a seven year moratorium on fracking in their city limits on their ballot.  This would be the longest moratorium in the state!

If you are a resident of one of the Front Range cities that are planning to have oil and gas protections placed on the fall election ballot, be sure to find your local petition circulator.  Broomfield, Boulder, Fort Collins, Loveland, Lafayette, and possibly more are working towards local fracking bans or moratoriums, and some of them still need your signature to get placed on the local ballots.  See Lauren Swain's Colorado Oil and Gas Roundup below for details.  The local clean energy movement is pushing hard against the proliferation of fossil fuels in Colorado!

What an honor!
In other news, the RMC Communications Team was selected as the winner of the national Club Communications Award, and the team has elected that team member Lauren Swain, noted below as this month's Featured Volunteer, will be accepting the award on behalf of the team.  The awards ceremony will be held on Saturday, September 21st in San Francisco, California.  Stay tuned for the official announcement from the Honors and Awards Committee.

Executive gathering
Happening this past Saturday, at the same time as the activism in Aspen, the chapter's Executive Committee (ExCom) had a quarterly meeting, with our gracious Roaring Fork Group as host, near Glenwood Springs at the Colorado Mountain College Spring Valley Campus.  There were great views of 12,965' Mount Sopris across the valley, making it a very scenic and relaxing meeting place.  Our thanks also go out to Colorado Mountain College for the venue.

Among the highlights of the meeting, Bryce Carter gave a good update of where the national Beyond Coal Campaign currently stands in their efforts to reduce coal use in Colorado, and to promote renewable energy.  Lauren Swain had a great discussion with the ExCom about our chapter Beyond Oil and Gas campaign.  And the ExCom reviewed and approved a request to hire a new Conservation Programs Coordinator staff person.  This will be a chapter role, in addition to the national staff Beyond Natural Gas Campaign Representative currently advertised in Colorado.

One additional highlight is that your RMC ExCom Chair Dave Bryan is now co-Chair with Mark Stevens, who is also the Roaring Fork Group Conservation Chair and ExCom member.  Congrats, Mark!

Win for Colorado forests?
I'd like to point out one court case recently decided that may have an immense impact on protecting Colorado forests.  This was an east coast federal court case that closes an EPA loophole with regard to using forest biomass for gasoline, heat, or electricity ("biofuel").  We'll be looking into how this precedent can be used to protect Colorado forests, considering one biomass company just landed on our doorstep with a $3.1 million tax incentive wink and a nod.

Hike for a cause!
One last note... we'd really love to hike with you in our Step Strong Colorado hiking event this September, even if you cannot make that event in person.  Details are in the article below by Fundraising Chair Dave Read.  

With your help, we're raising much-needed funds through this event, and it's a great way to have fun on some spectacular hikes in Roxborough State Park with fellow Sierra Club members, or as a "virtual hiker" wherever you are, participating in spirit with your friends on a trail near you.  We had a blast last year with this event, and we're hoping to see it grow this year!  

Thank you for everything you do,

Joshua Ruschhaupt, Rocky Mountain Chapter Director

Colorado Oil and Gas Roundup

By Lauren Swain
RMC Oil and Gas Campaign Team Chair

Alt Oil & Gas Roundup logo

Action Alert: Your help is needed now

Protect Front Range Communities from Toxic Fracking Impacts

The Sierra Club has endorsed proposed ballot initiatives in Broomfield, Fort Collins, Loveland, and Lafayette, to stop the spread of harmful drilling and fracking activities on the Front Range and protect our air, water, and environment from toxic air emissions and spills. Broomfield and Fort Collins need your help immediately to be successful in their petition drives—each for a 5-year moratorium, allowing time to review health impact studies.  Broomfield's deadline is July 26 and Fort Collins' is July 31.  We encourage Sierra Club members and supporters to volunteer with the local citizen groups organizing the petition effort.  You do not have to be a resident of these communities to circulate petitions.

In Broomfield contact the Our Broomfield citizen group at

In Fort Collins email organizer Kelly Giddens with Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins at or call her at 970-430-6185.

If you have further questions about these efforts or would like to be on our Beyond Oil & Gas Team activist list in general, please email me at


Browns Canyon hike energizes support for wilderness protection

By Jim Lockhart
Pikes Peak Group Outings Chair 

Browns Canyon Hike

Michael Brune and family pictured with Sierra Club and local community leaders at Browns Canyon, near Buena Vista, CO.

I had the pleasure of leading Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune and his family on a short hike into the Browns Canyon proposed National Monument and Wilderness Area.

On June 13, the Brune family arrived at the Ruby Mountain trailhead as part of their 1,000-plus-mile trip to visit Colorado and the Southwest. Michael, his wife, Mary, and their three children, Olivia, Sebastian and Genevieve, combined a family vacation with visits to some of America's most treasured and threatened wild areas,  including Browns Canyon, proposed for National Monument status by Senator Mark Udall and the recently-designated Chimney Rock National Monument.


Go Solar with the Sierra Club
Go Solar in Colorado with the Sierra Club

By Carol Carpenter
RMC Communications Team

Brune Solar

Sierra Club Executive Director 
Michael Brune was one of the first
to install solar on his roof from 
this Solar Homes program. 

As you look up at the blue Colorado skies this summer and feel the warmth of the almost ever-present sun on your face, do you ask yourself why you haven't joined the growing numbers of homeowners who have harnessed this abundant and clean energy to cool and warm your own home?

You can join 26 other Colorado families who have converted their homes to solar power through Sierra Club's partnership with Sungevity, one of the country's leading rooftop solar providers. This innovative program provides a vital opportunity for you to support clean energy, cut pollution and save money.


Step Strong Colorado

Step Strong Colorado!

By David Read
RMC Fundraising Team Chair

Roxborough scenery

Roxborough State Park.

Sign up! 

A big "Thank You!" to everyone who completed our Step Strong Colorado benefit hike interest survey and entered our drawing for the $50 REI gift card.  We are pleased to announce that Kathy Reiner of Lone Tree won the drawing.  Congratulations Kathy!

In other Step Strong news, we still need participants and sponsors for the event.  Please go to to register or for more information about this exciting way to help the Chapter raise funds by actually going out and enjoying the very thing we all are working to protect.  Also, please contact Dave Read, Fundraising Chair, at if you would like to volunteer or have a business that could benefit from being a sponsor. 

As a recap, Step Strong Colorado! A Benefit Hike to Protect the Environment, will be Saturday, September 14, 2013 at Roxborough State Park.  Participants choose a hike from 4 different trails, with varying experience levels from easy to challenging, and can also choose to simply hike or gather pledges and hike for exciting prizes.

There will also be free parking and complimentary food -- so what are you waiting for?  Find out more, and register today!  

Not a hiker or not able to make the trek to Roxborough?  Not a problem.  Be a Virtual Hiker and hike with us in spirit, perhaps even on a trail wherever you may be.

Whether you join us at the park or in your heart, thank you so much for your support and all you do for the environment.

Featured Volunteer: Lauren Swain

By Carol Carpenter
RMC Communications Team 

Lauren Head Shot 7-16

Lauren Swain

As the saying goes: Give a busy person a job and chances are good she will get it done. In a nutshell, that defines Lauren Swain, Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter's (RMC) totally committed and enthusiastic volunteer activist.

A member or leader of numerous RMC teams: Beyond Oil and Gas (BO&G) Team chair, Communications Team member, Legislative Team member, Wilderness Team member, and "a few others," Lauren can correctly be described as one of our most dedicated and tireless RMC volunteers.

Vital to every team she serves on, Lauren, a Denver resident, is especially involved right now leading the BO&G Team in its effort to reduce the negative environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.


Frackenstein toon episode 3
View larger version...


Facebook Photo Contest

July Facebook Photo Contest Winner

"Colorado Speed Trap" in Denver, CO.  Photo by John DeBord.

Congratulations to John DeBord! He is the winner of our June "Urban Wilderness" Facebook Photo Contest.  

Enter our Facebook photo contest!

Did you know that we have a monthly photo contest? The theme for the July contest is "Summer Vacation!" Submit your best urban wilderness photo today!  Winner gets a free 2013 Sierra Club photo calendar.  Submit your photo now, and tell your friends to LIKE it!

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 Lauren Swain, at

Legislative Committee Leaders
We're recruiting for the 2014 legislative session!  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  The intervening time between legislative sessions is a time to prepare for the upcoming session, and to train volunteers and activists how to be most effective in their lobbying.  Contact this committee at

Communications Team Leaders 
The Communications Team is currently very strong, however, they are looking for reporters and Convio/Listserv Administrators.  (Not familiar with Convio or Listserv email systems, but learn fast? Don't worry, we have professional trainers.)  Contact the Communications Team, 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
The Chapter Executive Committee just appointed a new Chair for this team, Dave Read, but we're in need of more fundraising volunteer leaders to help us reach our fundraising goals.  Volunteers play a major role in creating 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, or just want to get started, we need your help! Even if you just want to be an assistant to learn and help out, sign up! We're looking for at least three new volunteers. Contact Dave Read, at

Legal Committee Leaders
The chapter is currently engaged in some legal battles, and we've re-established 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 one to three more leaders. If you are interested in serving on the chapter's Legal Committee, contact the Legal Committee Chair, Erin Eastvedt, for details, at

Outings Leaders
Colorado is a hiker's mecca. We're looking for a few more core-team leaders, and several outings leaders.  Have you ever wanted to lead your own fun or conservation-minded hikes?  Sierra Club is known for great outings with trained volunteer leaders. Let us train you to be one of them!  We're really excited to get our outings program working directly on conservation issues, too! Contact Joshua Ruschhaupt, at

Denver Metro Network Leaders and Activists
The Denver metro area has the highest density of Sierra Club members in the state, and we're very excited to be working on getting it organized.  The new Leadership Team has recently been appointed, and could use your input!  If you're interested in helping out with that effort, just send a quick note to the Leadership Team Chair, Mathew Elsner, at

RMC Roaring Fork Group Leaders
The Roaring Fork Group is looking for new and energetic leaders to volunteer to help out with fighting oil & gas drilling proposals on the Thompson Divide, west of Carbondale, and south of Glenwood Springs.  The Group is also pursuing Wild and Scenic status for the Crystal River!  You should live within the Roaring Fork Group boundary: Pitkin County, Eagle County in the Roaring Fork Valley or Fryingpan Valley, or eastern Garfield County.  They're also looking for volunteer leaders interested in helping lead the Group itself.  Get in touch with Mark Stevens, RFG Executive Committee member, at

RMC Weminuche Group Leaders
The Weminuche Group is currently not a running group, due to a lack of volunteer Executive Committee leaders, and the Rocky Mountain Chapter knows there are many Sierra Club members and supporters in the region who care deeply about exploring, enjoying, and protecting Southwest Colorado.  We're looking for new and energetic leaders to volunteer to become outings leaders, fight the oil & gas industry, advocate for healthy public lands, and more! You should live within the Weminuche Group boundary: San Miguel, Dolores, Montezuma, San Juan, La Plata, Hinsdale, Mineral, or Archuleta Counties.  Get in touch with Joshua Ruschhaupt, at

Continue reading the list of available volunteer opportunities...

Blue Ribbon
Your Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter Communications Team has been selected as the 2013 national Sierra Club Communications Award winner!

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In this issue:

  • Director's Message
  • Oil and gas roundup
  • Browns Canyon hike energizes support for wilderness protection
  • Go solar in Colorado with the Sierra Club
  • Step Strong Colorado, a Sierra Club benefit hike to protect the environment
  • Featured Volunteer: Lauren Swain
  • Cartoon: Frackenstein, Episode 3
  • Facebook photo contest
  • Volunteer Leadership Openings
  • Sidebar:
    • Donate!
    • Go Solar!
    • P&P Archive
    • Be a member!
    • Facebook
    • Meetup
    • Twitter
    • Must-See Event
    • Featured Outings
    • Wish List
    • Story Idea? 

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Donate online!

Support your Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter.

We depend on your support to do all of our work! 

Contribute on our secure website today.

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Go Solar!

Sierra Club Solar Homes 2013

If you are the proud owner of a single-family home, and you want to reduce Colorado's climate impact, you can install a solar system on your roof!  

Sierra Club RMC partners with Sungevity to employ local, certified solar installers. 

Get your free
solar iQuote now!

Sungevity supports Sierra Club with a great contribution with the completion of every installation we refer to them.  

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Peak and Prairie

The Peak and Prairie is the official Chapter newsletter.

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 "Join Now!" to become a member today at just $15!

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Be Social!

Like us on Facebook now!

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

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Must-See Event:

  Step Strong Colorado! A Sierra Club Benefit Hike to Protect the Environment

Step Strong logo color w SC info

Hike and Have Fun for a Purpose at "Step Strong Colorado!" A Sierra Club Benefit Hike to Protect the Environment.

Please join us for this year's premier outdoor fundraising event to promote and preserve Colorado's environment, wilderness areas and outdoor recreation spaces.

We will be hiking the scenic trails of Roxborough State Park, which offers 4 levels of hiking experience for you to choose – from easy to challenging --with some spectacular views of red rock and sandstone formations along with diverse, dazzling flora and fauna. Do one or several trails – there is truly something for everyone of any level of skill or interest.

For more information please visit our sign-up page. 

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Featured Outings
Buy Tickets

Camp & Visit Colorado's Newest Nat'l Monument: Chimney Rock, Near Pagosa Springs

Basecamp: Ute Campground, west of intersection of Hwy 151 and Hwy 160, near Pagosa Springs, CO, with Chimney Rock entrance just south of intersection (map).  

Friday, 6 p.m., August 9, 2013 through Sunday morning 9 a.m.
[Optional: camping available Th. night w/hike Fri. No add'l charge, let trip leader know.]

Fri: Arrive at 6 p.m. in Chimney Rock's lower picnic area for cold meal; astronomy program 7pm-10pm w/minimal walking. 

Night Sky Archaeoastronomy Program
Enjoy the night sky in a truly dark environment. Your evening begins with a talk at the Visitor Center amphitheater. Topics range from what the ancient people noticed in the night sky to how a telescope helps us see stars and current topics in astronomy. As darkness descends, guests drive to the High Mesa parking lot where volunteer astronomers await with telescopes to provide a closer look at the wonders of the night sky. Each telescope will focus on a different feature of the night sky and the volunteer will change that focus periodically during the two-hour viewing time. This is a reservations-only program, suitable for children.  

Sat. am:
 9:30 a.m.: full tour of archeological site. 

Pueblo Trail
The unimproved Pueblo trail is two thirds mile round trip with a 200-foot elevation gain, topping out at 7,600-feet elevation. The Pueblo Trail features a multi-family dwelling, now known as the Ridge House, and several crater mounds (unexcavated structures). At the top, Chimney Rock's Chacoan-style Great House Pueblo is spectacular against the backdrop of the San Juan Mountains.

Great Kiva Trail
The one-third-mile Great Kiva trail is paved and ADA accessible. Guests will see a 44-foot diameter excavated great kiva, probably a community gathering place for those who lived at the site 1000 years ago. Also on this easy trail, there's an excavated pit house, a typical residence of the ancient ones.

Sat. pm: easy, short hike along Piedra River. 7 p.m.: potluck at campground, no fires but stoves are ok.

Sun. am: Trip ends.

Trip leader is reserving and paying for both tours and campground, so reservation and payment must be completed here by July 29. Saturday hike & potluck. $40 per adult ($25 is tax-deductible); $25 per child aged 5-16 ($12.50 is tax-deductible). Registration / ticket required.  Limit of 15.

To share with your friends, visit our Meetup page.  Full description, to register and purchase your ticket, visit our event page.


Happy Hour in the Hills-Castlewood Canyon State Park

Castlewood Canyon State Park, 2989 Colorado 83, Franktown (map)

Friday, July 26, 2013
5:30 p.m. to 9 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're spending each Friday (June-July) out in the foothills on short hikes that average around 5 miles round-trip. Our last happy hour hike is about 4.5 miles round-trip with an elevation gain of 200 feet.  This hike is rated easy and we will have several stops so that we can chat and get to know one another because it IS happy hour after all! Remember that Castlewood Canyon is a State Park and therefore has a park fee-$7 per vehicle-so I highly recommend carpooling to this hike. For more information and to register, contact Colleen Finnerty at 303-388-1058 or email trip leader at by 10 a.m. July 25th.

These hikes are for adults only with no dogs.  Remember that it is summer so it will be hot and sunny; bring plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat.  You may also want to bring something to eat since we will be out hiking at dinnertime.

For more information and to register, vist our Meetup page.

 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!

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  

Be sure to get in touch with the Communications Team if you are a RMC volunteer interested in being featured in an article -- we want to let others know the great work you're doing and who you are!

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

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Header Photo Credit: Communications Team volunteer Bill Bruner.