'Fringe activist' serves when and where she's needed

By Carol Carpenter
RMC Communications Team

Betsy Kelson

Often in volunteer groups, a few dedicated and hardworking individuals step in and volunteer for jobs simply because no one else does and because the jobs need to be done. One of those special people−and certainly not the only one in Sierra Club’s Rocky Mountain Chapter (RMC)−is Betsy Kelson.

Betsy serves as the Mount Evans Group (MEG) chair and also as its Membership and Fundraising chairs. She also serves on the RMC Fundraising Committee and is the Executive Committee (ExCom) vice chair. She wears these different leadership hats mostly because, well, “no one else wants to do it.”

She is feeling a little nervous about the ExCom vice chair position in particular. “I feel that I have huge shoes to fill, so it is a little scary,” she comments.


Even bigger 2013 fundraisers

As a member of the Fundraising Team, Betsy would like to see both the Step-Strong Hike-A-Thon (held last year in Roxborough Park) and the John Fielder December holiday event take off and become even bigger this year.

At the Fielder event, the renowned outdoors photographer spoke about the successes of Great Outdoors Colorado and also sold his scenic books, photographs and calendars to help raise funds for RMC activities and goals.

A resident of Evergreen, whose home sits on a ridge with a lovely view of Conifer Mountain, Betsy joined the Sierra Club in 2000 after attending meetings for the three previous years.

Why Sierra Club? “I am still a member because I want my mountain community to continue to offer passive recreation and not try and bring the ALL the active recreation of ‘down the hill’ up here,” she states. “Also, even though my immediate area is the foothills, part of our membership lives in areas being looked at for oil and gas drilling and wind power.”

The MEG is considering what issues to focus on in 2013. “Perhaps our focus will be oil and gas in the South Park area,” she said. “Several of our members have been keeping a close eye on developments there.”

Many South Park residents do not want oil and gas development at this 10,000-foot elevation, where dependence on well water is the rule rather than the exception.

“There are lots of reasons for concerns. It appears that in addition to the oil and gas issue, there is uranium in those hills,” she said, explaining that this area is the headwaters of the South Platte River, an important water source for Denver and Aurora. The area is also known for its world-class trout fishing.

Admitting she is more of a “fringe activist” than someone who takes the lead in setting and working toward specific goals, she, nevertheless, is someone who can be counted on to assist in whatever needs doing. “I have a real hard time saying ‘no,’” she says.


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