The conservation community is mourning the loss of one of its most dynamic, passionate members. Becca Strelitz passed away last week following a motorcycle accident outside of Denver. On Friday, a memorial service was held, which was attended by hundreds of people from all walks of life. The event was a clear reflection that Becca touched the lives of all kinds of people, and she will live on through those of us who were lucky enough to spend time with her and be inspired by her ardent yet carefree spirit.
Becca brought a unique mix of hilarity and tenacity to everything she did. She was very dedicated to her work, particularly the effort to designate Browns Canyon as a National Monument. She played a pivotal role on the Conservation Colorado team in making it a reality, and it will continue to be a meaningful legacy for future generations. She wrote her graduate-school thesis on protecting the canyon, and upon hearing that it would indeed become a monument, she got a tattoo to commemorate the occasion.
She became involved with Colorado Environmental Coalition as an intern in 2011, and over time, became one of the best and brightest community organizers on conservation issues. Her unmitigated passion for the cause gave her a powerful ability to connect with others and motivate them to act.
Though she was as liberal with kindness as she was with tattoos, talking to Becca gave you the flattered sense of being chosen by the popular girl in school. The phrase “effortlessly cool” hardly does her justice. But her easygoing nature, paired with a self-deprecating, caustic sense of humor made her a joy to spend time with, even if you didn’t have much in common with her.
She was a prolific generator of affectionate terms for people; she referred to those she was close to as “friendships”, which then morphed to “french dip.” She always had a “hey, sister” and a smile to share, even when she had a lot going on, which was pretty much all the time. Her adventurous spirit led her to all kinds of trips and experiences, for which she was perpetually recovering or preparing.
Becca was one of the kindest, most passionate people we have had the privilege to work with, and she will be dearly missed by not just the board and staff of Conservation Colorado, but by the many lives she touched in various communities across the state. Having grown up in Colorado Springs, she had a personal connection to conservation issues in our state and spoke eloquently about how her family’s outings sparked an “inherent passion” for protecting Colorado’s incredible landscapes she held dear.
A celebration for the designation of Browns Canyon National Monument is being planned to take place this July. This spectacular stretch of the Arkansas River will enjoy permanent protection due in no small part to Becca’s tireless efforts, and those who worked with her on it will use the opportunity to honor her memory.
Ernest Hemingway wrote that, “no one lives all the way up except bullfighters.” Clearly, he just never had a chance to meet Becca Strelitz.
Photos courtesy of Conservation Colorado.