RMC volunteer key to launching Denver Metro Network

By Carol Carpenter
RMC Communications Team

Kathleen Butler
Kathleen Butler

Before the new Denver Metro Network (DMN) became a reality last year, one early—and very key—volunteer was helping make it happen behind-the-scenes. That was Kathleen Butler, a Colorado native and Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter (RMC) member since 2000.

Like most planned endeavors, it didn’t start as smoothly as she might have hoped. “In the beginning I worked on the summer 2011 survey of Sierra Club members in the local area to determine who might want to be in a Denver group,” she said. “For a variety of reasons we found no one.”

Not one to give up easily, she decided research the entire greater Denver Metro Sierra Club list and was impressed with the credentials of many individuals there. “After looking high and low for leaders, I finally found them. We interviewed some of the members and were able to find a number of people who had outstanding credentials.”

The rest, as the saying goes, was history. Not history actually, but the beginning of the DMN, an organization she, too, became a member of in 2013. Rather than calling it a “Group,” like the other RMC groups around the state, the RMC Executive Committee (ExCom) decided to call it a “Network,” which they felt more accurately reflected its mission and goals.

For her efforts, Kathleen was named RMC’s Grassroots Leader of the Year by the RMC ExCom in 2013. She received this award last December as part of an awards ceremony in which more than a dozen RMC volunteers and others were recognized for their outstanding contributions to the Club and its goals.

Considering how the DMN can make a positive difference going forward, Kathleen would like to see the Network sponsor more outings, hold movie screenings, and provide assistance with ongoing issues, such as saving Hentzell Park in Southeast Denver from development.

Outings, she believes, would be informative and fun for all of the DMN members, while movie screenings could be a significant source of information about pressing issues like oil and gas development.

Concerns beyond Denver

But Kathleen’s concerns lie beyond the Denver area, and she sees that all of Colorado has difficult environmental issues to deal with.

Kathleen Butler and husband
Kathleen and her husband Henry Burgwyn in Peru

“I have a sincere interest in environmental issues facing Colorado,” Kathleen acknowledges, adding that she fully supports Sierra Club’s goals to improve water quality and sources. “Our state is totally dependent on water and the analysis of its future availability is one of the most important issues we face. We are losing significant quantities of water when we did not have an adequate supply to begin with.”

Also, like many Sierra Club members, she is frustrated with the amount of fracking that takes place in Colorado. “Fracking goes on at most of the oil and gas wells in Colorado. Some people favor the use, while others oppose it. Fortunately, four communities have voted against fracking, which means fracking’s effects should be analyzed, and a decision should be made on whether or not it should be used.”

She is also highly concerned about the use of coal in Colorado. “I think coal is the driving force among Colorado environmental issues, and we need to become more independent of it,” she comments. “When I drive to my home town, Pueblo, I see train after train delivering coal to a variety of places. Until we can come up with some reliable curbs on the use of coal, it will remain an unending source of dirty fuel.”

Looking ahead, Kathleen confirms that she has enjoyed her work at the RMC and hopes to continue her volunteer efforts into the future.

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