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Peak and Prairie Enewsletter

Newsletter of the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter

February 2014

Electronic Edition

Message from the Sierra Club 

Rocky Mountain Chapter Director, Joshua Ruschhaupt:

"Get Shocked by a Volt!"

Joshua and Volt at A-Basin.
The Chevy Volt performs great in 
the mountains. 
I finished a
day of skiing at 
Arapahoe Basin,
with a round-trip gas mileage score
of 68.9 for the Volt! 

In January's message, Lead by Example, I asked, "how will you improve your life on this planet and your relationship with your environment? You can reduce your impact to the planet, globally, and/or locally. Will those improvements be small or large?" My own answer was that I finally saved up enough money to "upgrade" my transportation from a 2002 Prius to a 2014 Chevy Volt plug-in extended-range electric vehicle (EREV).

So, if you are like me, and decide you want to help make a difference by...


Buyer beware: A guide to bee-safe gardening 

By Cosima Krueger-Cunningham, Sustainable Agriculture Committee Chair
and Angela Medbery, RMC Pesticides Committee

honey bees
Hazards for honey bees are
Photo credit: James Anderson

By now many people are aware that the pollinating insects we depend on for much of the food we eat are insteep decline, including European Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) colonies and important native bee species.

Although bees and other insect pollinators face an array of environmental stressors such as habitat loss, independent peer-reviewed scientific studies are zeroing in on toxic chemical pesticide exposures. These pesticides, particularly the recently-introduced neonicotinoid-class, are the decisive precipitating causes of the insects' sharp and extremely worrying decline in health and numbers.


"Protecting Your Backyard Bees" forum set for March

By Rebecca Dickson
Indian Peaks Group Co-Chair 

Honey bees, butterflies, bumblebees and other pollinators are in trouble. You'd be surprised by the little acts that can help protect pollinators and, thus, our local environment.

To learn more, you are invited to attend "Protecting Your Backyard Bees," a forum in Boulder on the importance and protection of bees and what kills them and other pollinators.


Gray wolves threatened once again 

By Delia Malone
RMC Executive Committee and Wildlife Team Chair

gray wolf
Gray Wolf
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Once upon a time not so long ago—but before the era of European settlers—wolves ranged widely across the North America continent.  This was a time when ecological processes were intact and ecosystems functioned to enable sustainable herds of elk, abundant and diverse communities of songbirds, and stream habitat where native fish dominated.


Media Watch
Global warming: To deny or not, that is the question

By James Luidl
RMC Communications Team  

Media Watch small

As January's arctic vortex spread icicles across the country, social media and cable news indulged in their usual genuflect over what this weather phenomenon tells us about global warming. Invariably a cold snap of this magnitude brings out the climate deniers and right-wing pundits, claiming a single weekend's cold weather trumps a century's worth of empirical data and decades of peer-reviewed scientific study.


Testify for clean air on February 19 

By Lauren Swain
Beyond Natural Gas Colorado Campaign Representative

Alt Oil & Gas Roundup logo


On February 19, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission will be hearing public testimony on proposed new air quality rules for oil and gas production in our state.  We encourage all of our members and supporters to testify, especially those who are directly impacted by drilling and fracking.  Please use this alert to join the RMC Beyond Oil & Gas Campaign in telling state regulators that we want maximum protection for our air quality in Colorado.


Brown's Canyon: It's what's inside that counts

By John Stansfield
Pikes Peak Group Wilderness Chair

Arkansas River in Browns Canyon
Arkansas River in Browns Canyon
Photo credit: Michael Ace

On the big map of Colorado wild lands, Browns Canyon is a little dot with a short river running through it. Diminutive in size, Browns Canyon is, however, mighty in many ways, and worthy of the public attention recently poured upon it.


Genetically engineered foods should be labeled

By Laurel Hopwood
Sierra Club Genetic Engineering Action Team Chair

Genetically modified corn 
Genetically engineered

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Genetic engineering is a radical technology involving the manipulation of genes. Scientists can transfer genes from one species to another totally unrelated species. Genes from bacteria (including antibiotic resistance), viruses, insects, nuts, fish and animals are presently in common foods or in the pipeline.

Currently, two-thirds of processed foods are made with a genetically engineered organism.


Share your pesticide issues

By Angela Medbery
RMC Pesticides Committee

Cropduster spraying pesticides
Cropduster spraying

Photo credit:
Wikimedia Commons
One in 30 households surveyed in 1976 reported they or someone in their household had experienced dizziness , nausea,headache or vomiting, which they attributed to pesticides. Today many of us are concerned about exposures that may cause long-term health and environmental effects.


Clean Energy Tour starts at History Colorado

Come to Denver's History Colorado museum for some fun while learning about the past, present, and future of our extraordinary state of Colorado at the kickoff of our 2014 Clean Energy Tour.

Sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Chapter and Sierra Club Beyond Coal to Clean Energy Campaign, the Clean Energy Tour will begin with a guided tour of the History Colorado Living West Exhibit. Living West is a 7,000-square-foot exhibit that explores the living dynamics between the people of Colorado and the state's extraordinary environment.

Featured Volunteer: Mat Elsner
Tough challenges spur this Denver Metro volunteer

By Carol Carpenter
RMC Communications Team 

Matt Elsner with motorcycleMat enjoyed a motorcycle trip in Denali

When Sierra Club gets a new member, that person does not always quickly and enthusiastically jump on the active volunteer bandwagon. Sometimes they never do.

But when Mat Elsner moved to Colorado from New York City in 2011, he wasted little time finding his way to the Rocky Mountain Chapter, not simply joining an established committee or group, but soon working with others to establish a brand new activist group—the Denver Metro Network (DMN). While planning for the DMN had been underway for some time, Mat helped bring it to fruition and enthusiastically accepted when he was asked to become the team's leadership chair.


The Return of Frackenstein

By James Anderson

Feb cartoon frackenstein

Facebook Photo Contest

gull wings and seaweed
Gull wings and seaweed on the shore of the Bering Sea, Brevig Mission, Alaska, by James Anderson

Congratulations to James Anderson
James is the winner of our January "Best of 2013" Facebook Photo Contest.  

Enter our Facebook photo contest! 

Did you know that we have a monthly photo contest? The theme for the February contest is "SNOW." Submit your best nature photos today!  Winner gets a free 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!

Outings Leaders

Colorado is a hiker's mecca. We're looking to build a core leadership team to work with our outings leaders, and also looking for several outings leaders throughout Colorado.  Have you ever wanted to lead your own fun or conservation-minded hikes?  Or just get out and enjoy the outdoors hikes?  Winter or Summer, 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

RMC Uncompahgre Group Leaders (Grand Junction, see map)

The Uncompahgre Group is currently working on revitalizing their group's leadership!  Their current Executive Committee (our local equivalent of a Board of Directors), which has decades of experience to share, is interested in transitioning to new, energetic, and passionate volunteers who are excited about pursuing the Club's mission.  The major issues in the area are oil and gas drilling and fracking, water conservation and planning, recycling/zero waste, wilderness and wildlands, outdoor recreation, and more.  If you're interested in pursuing the Sierra Club mission to Explore, Enjoy, and Protect the Planet on the west slope within the Uncompahgre Group, contact UG Co-Chair Carole Chowen, at

RMC Weminuche Group Leaders (Durango, see map)

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 more volunteer opportunities... 



In this issue:

  • Director's Message
  • Buyer beware: A guide to bee-safe gardening
  • "Protecting Your Backyard Bees" forum set for March
  • Gray wolves threatened once again
  • Media Watch: Global warming: To deny or not, that is the question
  • Oil & Gas Roundup: Testify for clean air on February 19
  • Browns Canyon: It's what's inside that counts
  • Genetically modified foods should be labeled
  • Share your pesticide issues
  • Clean Energy Tour starts at History Colorado
  • Featured Volunteer: Mat Elsner
  • Cartoon
  • Facebook Photo Contest
  • Volunteer Leadership Openings
  • Sidebar:
    • Must See Event!
    • Donate!
    • Go Solar!
    • P&P Archive
    • Be a member!
    • Facebook
    • Meetup
    • Twitter
    • Featured Outings
    • Story Idea? 

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Must-See Event:

Legislative Forum
planned for February

      Capitol Graphic Back to Work 

Buy Tickets

Save the date!

When: Saturday, February 22

Where: First Plymouth Church, 3501 S. Colorado Blvd., Denver (map)

What: Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter and the Audubon Society of Greater Denver will co-sponsor their annual Legislative Forum. 

Cost: The price is $12 if you sign up here in January or February or if you send a check to the RMC office (1536 Wynkoop Street, 4th floor, Denver, CO 80202). The cost is $15 at the door.

Why? This event is a fun opportunity to meet like-minded folks and learn about what Colorado conservation issues are being discussed in our state legislature. A continental breakfast and lunch are included in the price of your ticket.

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Donate Today

Support your Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter.

Members: keep an eye open for our annual March highlights and appeal letter arriving in your home mailbox soon!

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, and you also get $750!  

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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.

    Newsletter Line              Calendar

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
We're on Twitter, too!


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Featured Outings

Meetup logo

Hike in Cherry Creek State Park ($)

Cherry Creek State Park
4201 S Parker Rd, Aurora, Co (map)

Sunday, February 23
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Come and enjoy a lovely hike at my favorite place in Colorado: Cherry Creek State Park!  This hike is rated easy and will be around 5 miles in length and will cut through wetlands, beaches, and woodlands.  Stay after the hike and enjoy your packed lunch at the shoreline.  Please be advised that this is a state park so there is a $9 fee to enter; I highly encourage people to carpool.

We will be meeting at the Shop Creek Parking Area located between #17 and #13 on the map off of E. Lake View Rd. Please be advised that there are no amenities at this parking area though there are many scattered throughout the park.  Also, please note that I do not have a cell phone, so if you have any questions or concerns about the hike or need to cancel then please contact me before 7:30 a.m. Sunday the 23.  

This is a snow or shine hike meaning we will meet regardless of weather conditions unless those weather conditions are extremely hazardous i.e. blizzard.  Since this is the case please remember to bring the "ten essentials," especially the following:

• Warm winter clothes (think wool and synthetics; not cotton) and boots
• Plenty of water
• Snacks/Lunch
• Sunscreen
• Optional: thermos with hot cocoa, coffee or tea; camera; snowshoes.

For more information, please contact Colleen Finnerty at 303-388-1058. Hope to see you on the trail!

Meetup logo

Hike Reynolds Park

Reynolds Park - Main Trailhead
13581 South Foxton Road, Conifer, CO (map)

Sunday, March 20, 2014
9 a.m to 1 p.m.

Come join fellow hikers on an exploration of Reynolds Park!  This hike is rated moderate and will be around 6 miles in length and will climb through dense woodland as we make our way to Eagle's View for an amazing panoramic of our Rocky Mountains.  Stay after the hike and enjoy your packed lunch by the creek.

We will be meeting at the 2nd parking lot on right (if coming South/Southeast on Foxton Road) at the Songbird Trailhead. Please be advised that there are no amenities at this parking area though we will be hiking right past them at the beginning of our hike.  Also, please note that I do not have a cell phone, so if you have any questions or concerns about the hike or need to cancel then please contact me before 7:30 a.m. Sunday the 30.

This is a snow or shine hike meaning we will meet regardless of weather conditions unless those weather conditions are extremely hazardous i.e. blizzard.  Since this is the case please remember to bring the following:

• Warm winter clothes (think wool and synthetics; not cotton) and boots
• Plenty of water
• Snacks/Lunch
• Optional: thermos with hot cocoa, coffee or tea; camera; snowshoes

For more information, please contact Colleen Finnerty at 303-388-1058. Hope to see you on the trail!

 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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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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