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Peak and Prairie E-newsletter

Newsletter of the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter

September 2013

Electronic Edition

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

"1,000-Year Event"

Discover Magazine gif image from
Colorado Deluge: "Could Be
Classified as a 1,000-Year Event"

Some of you have just witnessed a geologically-important weather event that is expected to happen only once every 1,000 years, statistically speaking.

What an honor, right?!

For some, tragically, it was not.  I've heard that four people have lost their lives due to the floods, possibly more, and countless people have property damage, were injured, or otherwise directly impacted. Dozens, as of this writing, have gone unaccounted.  Our thoughts are with them and their families while they work to recover from these losses and challenges.  

There are ways you can help.

Undoubtedly, if you're like me, you are held in awe of nature's power whenever a massive event like this happens.  KatrinaSandy.  El Reno.  Rim.  Black Forest.  Now, the Front Range Floods.

If you're also like me in wondering about how our climate creates, influences, or enhances individual weather events like these, listen to the scientists and hear that climate change is directly involved, and with a 95 percent confidence among a plurality of the climate scientist community that humans are making things worse.  The next question is: "Is this the new norm?"

There are also ways you can help us if you want to make a difference.  Make a contribution to our work.  Put solar panels on your home.  Volunteer.  Suggest and drive the efforts of a campaign.  Whatever you decide, thank you for being part of the solution.

Welcome, Karen Dike!
This is just a quick note to welcome Karen Dike, who has become a new volunteer on the Legislative Committee, the Communications Team, and (she seems to like a challenge) the Beyond Oil and Gas Team!  Karen has endeavored to take on some heady work on all three, and we're encouraged by her passion and time commitment.  Please thank her if you meet her.

New Denver Metro Group Leadership Team member!
Please welcome Kathleen Butler, volunteer since the summer of 2011 working to recruit and develop new volunteers in the Denver area.  We're all really excited to see her join the DMN Leadership Team, where we know she will accomplish much! Please thank her if you meet her.

Thank you for all you do!
Joshua Ruschhaupt, Rocky Mountain Chapter Director

Boulder seeks independent clean-energy future

By Karen Dike
RMC Communications Team

The city of Boulder is on an exciting path toward building a clean-energy future. Their plan moves toward 50-percent renewables and includes a path to a 100-percent, fossil-free future.

The move includes building a municipal power structure that meets the objectives for a sustainable system of energy generation for power and light. This journey started years ago when the city set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012 (in accordance with the Kyoto protocol). Realizing they weren't going to make that goal with actions they had already implemented, they decided to switch to alternative energy solutions.
After studying Xcel Energy's power production, Boulder decided the best method to achieve its goal was to create its own municipal power system. The city has a clearly defined goal to decrease gas emissions while maintaining rates and reliability comparable to Xcel and to increase renewable energy. 


Colorado Oil and Gas Roundup

By Lauren Swain
RMC Oil and Gas Campaign Team Chair

Alt Oil & Gas Roundup logo

Greeley: Tuesday, September 3rd, The Greeley City Council heard an appeal and voted to uphold its decision to allow a massive expansion of a drilling site within city limits. The site near Northridge High School will be expanded to add 18 wells, 26 oil and water tanks and 12 separators.

Greeley citizens are engaged in dialogue with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and Governor Hickenlooper's office, asking them to deny a permit for the site expansion and, should a permit be issued in spite of their pleas, advocating for remedial measures to lessen the impact.  About 20 people spoke at the city council hearing, expressing their concerns about toxic and ozone-inducing air pollution and water contamination threatening public health and the environment. To express your feelings to the Governor about the transformation of this site into a large industrial complex near the school, a high-density neighborhood, and the Sheep Draw waterway and bike path, please use this ALERT.


Development of Hentzell, other urban
parks unwise move

By Carol Carpenter
RMC Communications Team 

Hentzell Park

Biking is popular in
Hentzell Park

Why are nine acres of open natural park space in southeast Denver—a hot button topic of debate and lawsuit against the city of Denver by park supporters—of concern to all Sierra Club members? Before that question is addressed, here's a little background about the controversial issue.

In late 2012, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock proposed to take about 11 acres, nine of which are designated open space, in Paul A. Hentzell Park (approximately half the park) and donate it to Denver Public Schools. At some point DPS would use the property to construct an elementary school. In exchange for the Hentzell property, the city would get a DPS office building on Fox Street that would be converted into a domestic violence center.

The park, located near South Havana St., and East Girard Ave., includes a portion of the Cherry Creek bike path near Hampden Ave. Although never declared an official city park by ordinance, various city maps and signs have referred to it as a park, and citizens have used it for decades for that purpose.


Go Solar with the Sierra Club
Solar open house set for October 13

By Carol Carpenter
RMC Communications Team

Jim Hart Solar

See Jim Hart's solar panels
in October.

Mark your calendars: Sierra Club's Rocky Mountain Chapter (RMC) is hosting a solar house party/open house on Sunday, Oct. 13 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. The event will be held at the solar home of Centennial, Colo., Sierra Club member, Jim Hart.

Jim has taken advantage of a special program offered through the Sierra Club and Sungevity, a solar company that is installing solar panels on homes not only in Colorado, but throughout the country.

Whether you buy or lease your new solar power panels, you will—as part of a special promotion offered in October only—get a $1,000 cash gift card back from Sungevity if you decide to go solar. And here's another great advantage for you as a Sierra Club supporter: Every solar system installed sends $1,000 back to Sierra Club's local efforts—big benefits for your RMC.


Colorado HOA members encouraged to go solar

By Carol Carpenter
RMC Fundraising Team Chair

Solar Roof

Are you a condo, townhome or patio home owner? If your residence is part of a homeowner's association (HOA) you might think getting permission to add solar panels to your roof would be a hassle. But good news: it's actually not all that difficult, and even if your HOA is reticent, the law is on your side.

Like homeowners who are not subject to HOA rules you, too, can take advantage of Sierra Club's solar initiative with Sungevity, a national solar home specialist that in less than two years has installed solar panels on the roofs of 199 Sierra Club members and supporters nationwide, nine of those in Colorado.

While some HOAs might be more than happy to work with homeowners to switch to renewable solar energy, others might be a little hesitant or even offer outright resistance.

Colorado law can be your ally

What do you do if your HOA is not cooperative? Fortunately, Colorado law (C.R.S. 38-30-168) can be your ally. The law, which addresses the authority of HOAs to regulate the installation and use of "solar energy devices," specifies what everyone's rights are, so read it thoroughly.


DMN hike and write produces Mount Falcon Haiku

By Carol Carpenter
RMC Communication Team

Pikes Peak Hiking Outting

On a warm, sunny Sunday morning in late August, a small group of Sierra Club members gathered at Mount Falcon Park in Morrison, Colo.,for a half-day of hiking, writing, and learning about the history and flora of the area.

The "Hike and Write" event featured an easy/moderate three-mile hike with two breaks for writing descriptive prose and haiku—an unrhymed verse form of Japanese origin having three lines containing five, seven and five syllables respectively. Traditionally, haiku often deal with nature and juxtapositions, serving as an apt way to interpret the many facets of Mount Falcon Park.


Featured Volunteer: Mark Stevens

RFG leader enjoys working with others
to achieve goals

By Carol Carpenter
RMC Communications Team 

Mark Stevens in Tonga

Mark Stevens (R) enjoys time with
children on a trip to Tonga

Some people like working independently, while others prefer interacting with like-minded individuals to achieve goals. While both styles can achieve excellent results, dedicated and active Sierra Club volunteer Mark Stevens, is, perhaps, aligned a little more closely with the latter group.

"I get a great thrill from seeing people come together and accomplishing goals," Mark, a resident of Glenwood Springs, states. "It is gratifying to find others in the Club with this interest, and I enjoy working collaboratively with them to build organization capacity and to develop better leadership and ways for people to participate in their area of interest. The better we do that the more we build our capacity to save the Earth."

A Sierra Club member since 1995 and former Roaring Fork Group (RFG) chair and vice-chair and Political Committee chair, Mark recently stepped up to volunteer in several more high-level Rocky Mountain Chapter (RMC) and Group positions as well: RFG Conservation chair, ExCom member and HELEN administrator and RMC at large member and ExCom co-chair.


True Tales of Eco-Disaster September cartoon
View larger version...


Facebook Photo Contest

August Facebook photo contest winner

  Photo by Annabel Attridge

Congratulations to Annabel Attridge! She is the winner of our August "Stormy Weather" Facebook Photo Contest.  

Enter our Facebook photo contest!

Did you know that we have a monthly photo contest? The theme for the September contest is "Organic Gardens, Farms and Harvests." Submit your best organic gardens, farms and harvests photo today!  Winner gets a free 2013 Sierra Club photo calendar.  Submit your photo now, and tell your friends to LIKE it!

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

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
  • Boulder seeks independent clean-energy future
  • Oil and gas roundup
  • Development of Hentzell, other urban parks unwise move
  • Solar open house set of October 13
  • Colorado HOA members encouraged to go solar
  • DMN hike and write produces Mount Falcon haiku
  • Featured Volunteer: Mark Stevens
  • Cartoon
  • Facebook photo contest
  • Volunteer Leadership Openings
  • Sidebar:
    • Donate!
    • Go Solar!
    • P&P Archive
    • Be a member!
    • Facebook
    • Meetup
    • Twitter
    • Must-See Event
    • Featured Outing
    • 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 web page.

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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:

  Solar house party set for October

Jim Hart Solar

Mark your calendars: Sierra Club's Rocky Mountain Chapter is sponsoring a solar home house party/open house on Sunday, October 13 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., in Centennial, Colo. The event will be held at the home of Centennial homeowner, Jim Hart, who is featured in a separate Peak and Prairie story this month.

Jim has taken advantage of a special program offered through Sierra Club and Sungevity, a solar home specialist that is installing solar panels on homes not only in Colorado but throughout the country.

If you would like to see Jim's solar panels, firsthand, and are interested in learning more about this program and how it can save money on your energy costs, the open house will be the perfect opportunity to do both. 

More information will be coming in September's Peak and Prairie and also in a separate e-mail that will allow you to RSVP for the event. 

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Featured Outing

Hike & Write Event: Fall Colors!

Myers Ranch
Your tent in the forest, Bailey, CO (map)

Trailhead parking area 1 mile east of Conifer off US285

Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013
9:00 AM

The first Hike and Write Event was awesome, so we've made this one even MORE awesome by having it at peak (hopefully!) color change during the first week of "official" Fall.  Come join us and pen some fabulous poetry or prose as you take in the beauty and splendor of your surroundings.

I, Colleen Finnerty, shall be your fearless Sierra Club leader and contact person for this outing, but our guide for the outing will be Dr. Richard F. Fleck.  Dr. Fleck is a former seasonal park ranger, naturalist and professor of American literature and environmental writing, author of a number of books including latest Desert Rims to Mountains High (Portland:  West Winds Press, September 4, 2013).

The hike takes place in Myers Ranch and will be approximately 5 miles round trip.  We will hike along the trail for 1 mile paralleling US285 in the edge of the woods until we start climbing up a series of switchbacks for another 1/2 mile to stop at a sheltered picnic area in an aspen grove.  Here will be our first writing station.  We'll continue upwards for another mile or so to an overlook for our 2nd writing station.

Remember to bring the following:

  • Backpack with writing tablet and pen/pencil
  • 1 quart of water
  • Energy snack
  • Sunscreen
  • Extra layers just in case (in Colorado anything can happen!)
  • Hat
  • The Ten Essentials

Come join us for what sounds like an amazing autumnal activity!

For more information and to register, visit 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!

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Header Photo Credit: Communications Team volunteer Bill Bruner.