Skip to main content
Select Source:

Sierra Club

SIERRA CLUB

The Sierra Club is a nonprofit, member-supported public interest organization that promotes conservation of the natural environment by influencing public policy decisions. In addition, the Sierra Club organizes participation in wilderness activities for its members, including mountain climbing, backpacking, and camping. It is the oldest and largest nonprofit, grassroots environmental organization in the world, with more than 700,000 members. In mid-2003, the Sierra Club consisted of the national organization, located in San Francisco, California, 65 chapters, and approximately 365 local groups.

The organization was founded on June 4, 1892, by a group of 162 California residents. The Sierra Club's first president was John Muir, a pioneer in the promotion of national parks and the protection of the environment. Muir involved the club in political action, leading a successful fight to preserve Yosemite as a national park. Muir and the club also lobbied for the creation of national parks at the Grand Canyon and Mt. Rainier in the late nineteenth century. The Sierra Club drew national attention during the administration of President theodore roosevelt, when Muir got the president interested in creating more national parks.

The Sierra Club did not seek members out-side of California until 1950, when membership stood at 10,000. Membership has increased dramatically since that time, due in large part to the club's intense interest in protecting the environment. Since 1970 the club has played a major role in gaining legislative support for many federal environmental protection measures, including the establishment of the environmental protection agency and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the passage of the endangered species act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Forest Management Act, and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The Sierra Club has also campaigned for similar state legislation.

During the 1990s, the Sierra Club filed lawsuits seeking to require the federal government to enforce provisions of the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Air Act. The organization also protested global trade that did not include adequate environmental protection controls. In the early 2000s the Sierra Club also advocated for the cleanup of toxic wastes, resolving the problems of solid waste disposal, promoting sustainable population and family planning, and fighting to reverse ozone depletion and global warming. In 2003 the Sierra Club highlighted the evasion of state and local pollution controls by many of the nation's "animal factories," sprawling establishments where thousands of animals are produced and housed in strict confinement before being transported to slaughterhouses.

further readings

Burton, Lloyd. 2002. Worship and Wilderness: Culture, Religion, and Law in Public Lands Management. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press.

Clifton, Carr. 1990. Wild by Law: The Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund and the Places It Has Saved. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books.

Ehrlich, Gretel. 2000. John Muir: Nature's Visionary. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic.

Sierra Club. Available online at <www.sierraclub.org> (accessed August 11, 2003).

cross-references

Environmental Law; Environmental Protection Agency.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Sierra Club." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Sierra Club." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/law/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/sierra-club

"Sierra Club." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Retrieved October 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/law/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/sierra-club

Sierra Club

SIERRA CLUB

SIERRA CLUB. John Muir, the apostle of the American preservationist movement, cofounded the Sierra Club in 1892 and became its first president. The club's 182 charter members believed that by bringing people to the mountains and educating those who would not come, they could convince Americans to safeguard California's


wildlands. Foremost, the new clubstrove to protect the recently established Yosemite National Park, which faced its greatest threat from a proposal to dam the nearby Hetch Hetchy Valley. The ensuing controversy exposed a rift between preservationists, who believed in defending wilderness from most uses except recreation, and progressive conservationists, who advocated the "wise use" of the nation's resources.

During the first half of the twentieth century, the Sierra Clubstood at the vanguard of the preservationist movement. The club lobbied hard for the creation and protection of such national parks as Mount Rainier, Glacier, and the Grand Canyon, and clubmember Steven Mather became the first director of the National Park Service. Yet the Sierra Clubremained relatively small and localized.

Led by the so-called "Young Turks," including David Brower and Ansel Adams, during the 1950s, the Sierra Club became more aggressive and national. The club's focus, however, remained on preservation as it fought to stop a dam at Dinosaur National Monument and pushed for passage of the Wilderness Act. From 1955 to 1965, clubmembership grew from 10,000 to 33,000.

During the 1960s and the 1970s, the Sierra Clubretained its leadership role only by broadening its lobbying activities to support new environmental laws to protect human health and welfare. To this end the club supplemented lobbying with litigation, which, for example, led to a ban on the widely used carcinogenic DDT in 1972. Club membership climbed to 114,000 by 1970 and to 200,000 by 1980.

Although concern over the Ronald Reagan administration's anti environmentalism drove membership to 325,000 by 1982, the Sierra Club struggled during the 1980s just to defend what had been accomplished. During the 1990s, the club resumed the offensive, fighting to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, to strengthen the Clean Air Act, and to create the California Desert Protection Act. At the same time, the club again expanded its agenda by speaking out against global warming, the depletion of the ozone layer, and global trade without environmental controls and by linking environmentalism with human rights abuses worldwide. By 2000, club membership had reached 600,000. What had begun as a small group of outdoor enthusiasts dedicated to protecting Yosemite Valley became by the end of the twentieth century one of the largest and most influential environmental organizations in the world.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Cohen, Michael P. The History of the Sierra Club, 1892–1970. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1988.

Fox, Stephen R. The American Conservation Movement: John Muir and His Legacy. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985.

Shannon C.Petersen

See alsoConservation ; National Park System ; Yosemite National Park .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Sierra Club." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Sierra Club." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/sierra-club

"Sierra Club." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved October 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/sierra-club

Sierra Club

Sierra Club, national organization in the United States dedicated to the preservation and expansion of the world's parks, wildlife, and wilderness areas. Founded (1892) in California by a group led by the Scottish-American conservationist John Muir, the Sierra Club is made up of more than 630,000 people devoted to the exploration, enjoyment, and protection of the natural environment. The club was instrumental in helping to create the National Park Service and the National Forest Service, as well as in the formation of individual recreation areas, such as Olympic and Redwood national parks. The group has also led efforts to obtain new parklands in Alaska. Through a program of court litigation and congressional action, the Sierra Club has opposed strip mining, the use of DDT, offshore oil drilling, hazardous wastes, and most other forms of chemical or aesthetic pollution. The Sierra Club has also broadened its program to include activities dealing with the urban environment, protection of tropical forests, and overpopulation. Through its almost 300 local groups, the Sierra Club sponsors a series of nature outings, and its national office, located in San Francisco, publishes a monthly bulletin as well as numerous books about ecology and the environment.

See Sierra Club, Guide (1989).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Sierra Club." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Sierra Club." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/sierra-club

"Sierra Club." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved October 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/sierra-club