Sierra Club

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Logo of Sierra Club

Motto Explore, enjoy and protect the planet.
Established 1892
Exec. Dir. Carl Pope
President Lisa Renstrom
Headquarters San Francisco, CA, USA
Membership 750,000
Founder John Muir

The Sierra Club is an environmental organization founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the United States, and is affiliated with Sierra Club of Canada. The Sierra Club is governed by a fifteen-member volunteer Board of Directors. Each year, five directors are elected to three-year terms, with all Club members eligible to vote. A president is elected annually by the Board from among its members and receives a small stipend. The Executive Director runs the day to day operations of the group, and is a paid staff member. The current Executive Director is Carl Pope.

All club members also belong to chapters (usually state-wide), and to local groups. National and local special interest sections, committees, and task forces address particular issue. Policies are set at the appropriate level, but on any issue the Club has only one policy.


Mission statement

  1. Explore, enjoy and protect the wild places of the earth.
  2. Practice and promote the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources.
  3. Educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment.
  4. Use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.

Priorities and campaigns

In order to focus attention on particular issues the Sierra Club's national and local entities select priorities and organize campaigns. The current national priorities (as of 2004) are: clean water, an end to commercial logging in national and other public forests, stopping sprawl, and protecting wildlands. Campaigns to achieve those and other priorities are planned and conducted chiefly by volunteers in the various club entities, with help of small support staffs. The club also hires people for campaigns through the Fund for Public Interest Research, as do some other organizations in the environmental movement.

Protecting rivers

One long-standing goal of the Sierra Club has been opposition to inappropriate dams. In the early 20th century, the organization fought against the damming and flooding of the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park. Despite this lobbying, Congress authorized the construction of O'Shaughnessy Dam on the Tuolumne River. The Sierra Club continues to lobby for removal of the dam, urging that San Francisco's water needs be accommodated instead by the re-engineering of the Don Pedro Reservoir downstream.

The Sierra Club advocates the decommissioning of Glen Canyon Dam and the draining of Lake Powell. The Club also supports removal, breaching or decommissioning of many other dams.


In 1901 William Colby organized the first Sierra Club outing to Yosemite Valley. The annual High Trips were led by accomplished mountaineers (some of them Sierra Club directors), such as Francis Farquhar, Joseph LeConte, Norman Clyde, Walter Starr, Jules Eichorn, Glen Dawson, Ansel Adams, and David R. Brower. Many first ascents in the Sierra Nevada were made on Sierra Club outings. Sierra Club members were also early enthusiasts of rock climbing and pioneers of the craft. In 1911 the first chapter was formed, Angeles, and it immediately started conducting local outings in the mountains surrounding Los Angeles and throughout the West. In World War II many Sierra Club leaders joined the 10th Mountain Division, bringing their expertise to the war effort.

The High Trips, sometimes huge expeditions with more than a hundred participants and crew, have given way to smaller and more numerous outings held across the United States and abroad. The National Outings program conducts hundreds of outings, most of which are between 4 to 10 days in length. Local chapters, groups, and sections lead thousands of generally shorter trips in their regions and beyond (mostly hiking, but also including cycling, cross-country skiing, etc.). Inner City Outings groups help make wild places accessible to children who are only familiar with the urban environment.

Notable past or current directors

Affiliates and subsidiaries

The Sierra Club Foundation was founded in 1960 by David R. Brower. It is a 501(c)3 charitable foundation that provides support for tax- deductible environmental action.

The Sierra Club of/du Canada has been active since 1963. It is now an independent corporation with its own national structure and local entities throughout Canada working on pollution, biodiversity, energy, and sustainability issues.

In 1971, volunteer lawyers who had worked with the Sierra Club established the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund. This was a separate organization that used the "Sierra Club" name under license from the Club; it changed its name to Earthjustice in 1997.

The Sierra Student Coalition (SSC) is the student-run arm of the Sierra Club. Founded by Adam Werbach in 1991, with 14,000 members, it purports to be the largest student-led environmental group in the United States.

The Sierra Club Voter Education Fund is a 527 group that became active in the 2004 Presidential election by airing television advertisements about the major party candidates' positions on environmental issues. Through the Environmental Voter Education Campaign (EVEC), the Club sought to mobilize volunteers for phone banking, door-to-door canvassing and postcard writing to emphasize these issues in the campaign.

See also

External links

Internal caucuses

(unofficial groups of Sierra Club members attempting to influence Sierra Club policy by electing candidates to the board of directors)

Groups are listed below in alphabetical order:

  • Groundswell Sierra ( - members who claim to represent a wide range of club leaders throughout the country. Groundswell Sierra supports only Nominating Committee candidates for the Board of Directors and supports the enactment of limitations on the right of petition candidates to run.
  • JohnMuirLives ( - members who want the club to adopt a stronger stance on such issues as forest conservation and the club's political endorsement process. A spin-off from the John Muir Sierrans.
  • John Muir Sierrans (no website) - formed in the 1990s by David Brower and other club members to promote changes to club positions, in favor of a zero-cut forest policy on public lands and decommissioning Glen Canyon Dam. JMS was successful in changing club positions on both counts.
  • Sierra Democracy ( - members opposed to the club's "old guard", and supporting the rights (in Club elections) of groups like SUSPS and JML. Website was specific to the 2004 board election and has not been updated since.
  • Sierra Network of Animal Advocates ( - animal rights advocates within the Sierra Club, who favor the removal of material in official Sierra Club publications and websites which they see as pro-hunting.
  • SUSPS ( - members who want the club to support U.S. population stabilization by overturning the 1996 decision of the club to take "no position" on immigration.
  • Sustainable Sierra ( - members in support of the 2005 ballot question on the club's population and immigration policies.

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