May 7, 2005: Headlines: Awards: Conservation: Environment: Grand Junction Sentinel: RPCV Clare Bastable named Colorado's Conservationist of the Year

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: Conservation: January 23, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: Conservation : May 7, 2005: Headlines: Awards: Conservation: Environment: Grand Junction Sentinel: RPCV Clare Bastable named Colorado's Conservationist of the Year

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RPCV Clare Bastable named Colorado's Conservationist of the Year

RPCV Clare Bastable named Colorado's Conservationist of the Year

RPCV Clare Bastable named Colorado's Conservationist of the Year

Carbondale woman named state’s Conservationist of the Year

Saturday, May 07, 2005


The Daily Sentinel

RIFLE — Girl Scout camping trips and family excursions introduced Clare Bastable to the outdoors.

A college semester-abroad in Brazil’s Amazon rain forest and a Peace Corps tour in West Africa deepened her love of all wild places.

“My parents took us hiking, camping and bird watching, and I really got the seed of what it meant to be outdoors,” she said. “When I did the semester abroad, that showed me I really needed to be proactive and really turned on the light.”

Now, the 30-year-old Carbondale resident admits she doesn’t have much time for a personal life as she fights to keep the Roan Plateau free of natural-gas drilling rigs and wells.

Saturday, Bastable’s love affair with the outdoors will be recognized when she is named Conservationist of the Year at the Colorado Wildlife Federation’s annual banquet in Parker, outside Denver.

Bastable was nominated by sportsmen she worked with to build a coalition of hunters, anglers, local governments and area residents concerned about potential gas development on the plateau’s top.

The Bureau of Land Management late last year released a controversial draft management plan and environmental impact statement for the plateau, between Rifle and Parachute, which would allow some level of gas development.

“Clare has been remarkably effective bringing people together to protect the Roan Plateau,” said Wildlife Federation board member Dennis Buechler. “She helped get us all singing off the same sheet music.”

The federation has no set selection criteria for the award, and it’s not given out every year, he said.

“This isn’t an environmental group honoring an environmentalist,” Buechler said. “Conservationist of the Year is in a broad sense; it’s really someone dedicated to the issues. Successful efforts to protect the public’s natural resources usually result from the incredible amount of time, dedication and leadership devoted by a few people.”

Trout Unlimited West Slope Organizer Ken Neubecker called Bastable “a tireless bulldog in her work.”

Colorado Mule Deer Association Director Bob Elderkin of Silt said Bastable “always comes across as a very personable and level-headed individual with carefully-thought-out arguments.”

“While we may not agree on everything, she always listens very carefully to any differing view,” he said. “That’s why she is so effective.”

Bastable said in today’s political climate with public land issues throughout the West, partnerships with organizations such as the three sportsmen’s groups are “absolutely critical.”

“We may come at it from different perspectives, but we all want the same thing in the end — balance,” she said. “In Garfield County, we’re seeing the scales tip dangerously (toward) resource extraction above all other uses, at the expense of our precious, irreplaceable public lands. It’s time for us to readjust the scales, and that’s what we’ve been trying to do together with the Roan Plateau.”

Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Bastable earned a degree in environmental studies and geology from Bucknell University. She came to Colorado to work an assistant teacher of environmental ethics at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Bastable also volunteered with the Environmental Protection Agency, taught outdoor education at the Keystone Science School in Summit County and led backpacking and hiking trips in and around Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park.

For the last four years, Bastable has been Western Slope conservation coordinator for Colorado Mountain Club. The 93-year-old nonprofit group works on issues related to public lands in the state. It has approximately 10,000 members.

Bastable laughs at the “tree hugger” stereotype some might slap on her.

“The implication is that I’m saying, ‘Don’t touch anything,’” she said. “That’s not where I’m coming from. There has to be a perspective of balance and where will we be 25 or 50 years from now, after we’ve used everything up. That’s why I say we need to be forward thinkers.”

“Should we see 20-acre (gas well) spacing on top of the Roan Plateau right now, or should we wait until technology and best management practices allow us to get the gas resource without harming the land?” Bastable asked. “Right now it seems the Bush administration and the industry say we need to get all we can right away. We need to look much further down the road.”

Bastable got involved in the planning process because the plateau is in her home county and it was “a clean slate” because there hasn’t been a management plan for the area until now.

“I’ve spent so much time there, leading hikes, biking, cross-country skiing, it’s not only a professional interest for me, but a deep, personal interest,” she said.

Close familiarity with the plateau’s valleys, creeks, trees and trails allows her to “speak personally and just for the love of it,” instead of as a paid staff person, Bastable said.

That passion has been all-consuming, she admitted, probably at some personal cost.

“I’d love to be able to afford a house, but I can’t” on her current salary, Bastable said.

Still, the rewards are “incredible.”

“I would never be tempted to pursue a career that I wouldn’t feel compassionate about,” Bastable said. “The rewards far outweigh anything else I could be doing. I’m on the front lines, able to work directly with the decision makers and these other groups. It’s been a unique opportunity.”

The outcome of a process that has taken so much time, effort and emotions might end in disappointment, though.

“I think the decision could personally affect me to a pretty deep level,” she said. “I don’t know if I’d feel like I failed (if drilling is allowed on top). I would be very disappointed. The alliances we’ve developed will certainly be worth the effort, though. And this won’t be over any time soon, either.”

Mike McKibbin can be reached via e-mail at

When this story was posted in May 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Grand Junction Sentinel

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Awards; Conservation; Environment



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