The Sierra Club was founded in 1892 by, John Muir, inventor, naturalist, explorer, writer, and conservationist. He spent a lot of time in the Sierra Nevada Mountains around Yosemite Valley in California. In it's first year the Sierra Club helped to defeat proposal to reduce boundaries of Yosemite National Park.

The Sierra Club currently has 2.4 Million members and provides both an outings program where you can explore & enjoy the wild places of the earth and 390 local groups where you can learn and get involved in environmental activism.
In addition they have a staff, which works with other environmental groups to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation.

Programs: Beyond Coal, Oil & Gas, Electric Vehicles, Environmental Justice, Environmental Law, International Climate Campaign, Sierra Club Outdoors, Responsible Trade, Toxics, ...

Mission Statement:

  • To explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth;
  • To practice and promote the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources;
  • To educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.
See Sierra Club Policies for Purpose and Goals, Bylaws and other Conservation Policies.

I personally liked their old PR campaign with the slogan: "Opposition to irresponsible development not irresponsible opposition to development."

But the Sierra Club has moved beyond protecting pristine lands from development to smart energy solutions, sustainable consumption, clean air and water, and many other areas. See examples of accomplishments below.

In a 1998 Aspen Survey the Sierra Club was rated America's most effective grassroots environmental organization. And unique in that it provides both outings and environmental activism.

President Theodore Roosevelt and
John Muir at Glacier Point - 1903.
John Muir, famous Scotsman, farmer, inventor, sheepherder, naturalist, explorer, writer, and conservationist, founded of the Sierra Club in 1892.

Teddy Roosevelt visited Yosemite park and went camping with him -- abandoning his security entourage -- which helped inspire Roosevelt's innovative conservation programs, including establishing the first National Monuments by Presidential Proclamation, and five more National Parks by congressional action.

President Bill Clinton said "One of the Americans who inspired Theodore Roosevelt to conserve our nation's forests was the naturalist John Muir, who once said, "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread - places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul." In today's fast-paced, high-tech world, Muir's words are even more compelling."
Muir is on the California Quarter.

Sierra Club members do not spray paint hummers, chain themselves to drilling platforms or spike trees. They use education and political influence to promote a healthy environment which allows us to enjoy a quality of life in our natural world.

Michael Brune is the Executive Director.
He oversees a staff at headquarters in San Francisco, the Legislative Office in Washington DC. plus 9 regional field offices and offices in Sacramento and Canada.
Annual Budget: $50 Million

  New Jersey Chapter (20,000 members - 10th largest of 65)
Groups by County: Central Jersey (Mercer), North Jersey - Hackensack (Passaic & Bergen), Gateway (Essex, Hudson), Skylands (Sussex and N Warren), Raritan Valley (S Somerset & Middlesex), South Highlands (Hunterdon, S Warren), Ocean County, Jersey Shore (Monmouth), South Jersey (Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, & Salem), Loantaka (Morris, Union, N. Somerset), West Jersey (Burlington, Camden and Gloucester)

It accomplishes its goals through:
  • Outings - From day hikes in your local park to month long trips to wild places of the world, the Sierra Club offers over 350 national and international outings plus more than 8,000 local outings on foot, by canoe, on skis, by bicycle, horseback, etc.,. John Muir said: "If people in general could be got into the woods, even for once, to hear the trees speak for themselves, all difficulties in the way of forest preservation would vanish."
    In 50 U.S. and Canadian cities, Sierra Club volunteers lead Inner City Outings, providing low-income, inner-city youth with trips to wilderness.
  • Local Meetings - The Sierra Club is divided into chapters (1 per state in the east, but there are 13 chapters in California) and the chapters divided into groups, which hold local meetings with presentations on outings, local, national and worldwide environmental issues and other topics. The meetings are open to members and non-members.
  • Education - Sierra Magazine, 390 local groups with monthly meetings providing educational programs and social interaction. Sierra Club Books has published more than 700 titles. There are numerous educational programs conducted by volunteers at the Local Level. Sierra Club's Green Life has Green iPhone Apps, tips for living green and more.
  • Activism - Write letters, attend meetings. See Welcome to the Sierra Club...
  • Lobbying - For and against legislation and conservation initiatives at all levels. The Sierra Club has a paid staff in Washington DC. Most chapters have paid directors who lobby at the state level. In addition volunteers work with local planning boards and governments.
  • Politics and Elections - From the "Environmental Voter Education Campaign" to Campaign support for legislative candidates pledged to defend our environment.
    Endorsements - Political committees meet with congressional candidates and local officials and publicly endorse those who will promote conservation.
  • Litigation - A staff of fourteen attorneys and professional staff prosecute strategic litigation for the Club's nationwide grassroots campaigns and direct the entire docket of nationwide Sierra Club litigation. Earthjustice (formerly "Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund") is an independent, nonprofit law firm started by Club leaders and others in the 1970s.

See Why Join the Sierra Club?

The Take Action Web page allows you to send faxes, e-mails and letters to public officials.

Some Examples of Sierra Club accomplishments and where it was instrumental in influencing government policy:

  • Establishment of Yosemite and Yellowstone national parks
  • Enactment of the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act
  • 1894 - Sierra Club climbers place registers on the summits of six peaks and begin recording assents.
  • 1901 - In the Club's first outing, William Colby leads 96 participants on a trip to Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows, beginning a tradition of annual High Trips.
  • 1911 - Devil's Postpile National Monument established, largely through the work of Club member Walter Huber.
  • 1912 - Club urges establishment of a National Park Service and buys inholdings at Soda Springs in Yosemite National Park.
  • 1916 - Club supports bill establishing National Park Service. Club member Stephen Mather is appointed National Park Service Director.
  • 1919 - Ansel Adams becomes custodian of LeConte Lodge in Yosemite Valley. Club supports formation of Save-the-Redwoods League.
  • 1920 - Sierra Club blocks a proposal for major dams n Yellowstone National Park.
  • 1921 - Club urges purchase of redwoods in California's Humboldt County for a state park.
  • 1922 - Mt. Shasta Alpine Lodge is built by Club members.
  • 1931 - On annual High Trip, Club members Francis Farquahar and Robert Underhill introduce the use of rope and belaying techniques in rock climbing.
  • 1934 - Club builds Clair Tappaan Lodge near Donner Pass and publishes A Guide to the John Muir Trail by Walter Starr.
  • 1935 - 1946 Campaign to establish Kings Canyon National Park
  • 1936 - Ansel Adams travels with his photographs to Washington, D.C., to lobby the Roosevelt administration to preserve Kings Canyon and the surrounding High Sierra.
  • 1946 - Club purchases Flora and Azlea lakes to protect one of the last natural areas near California's Donner Pass.
  • 1950 - The Atlantic Chapter, comprising 18 eastern states and the District of Columbia, becomes first Club chapter outside of California.
  • 1959 - Sixth Wilderness Conference focuses on "The Meaning of Wilderness to Science." Participants raise the issue of the environmental effects of world overpopulation.
  • 1963 - Club launches campaign to protect the Grand Canyon following congressional proposals to dam and flood parts of it.
  • 1964 - After years of battle, Congress passes the Wilderness Act, the first wilderness protection legislation in the world.
  • 1968 - Club succeeds in campaigns to stop dams in the Grand Canyon and to establish Redwoods National Park.
  • 1970 - Efforts of Club and others lead to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • 1972 - The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is created.
  • 1978 - Mineral King added to Sequoia National Park. The Sierra Club lost the 1972 Supreme Court decision "Sierra Club vs Morton" over it, in which Justice Douglas argued in that "inanimate objects" should have standing to sue in court.", but eventually won the war.
  • 1975 - With Club support, Congress passes legislation promoting energy conservation.
  • 1977 - Club joins successful effort to strengthen the Clean Air Act.
  • 1980 - Club campaigns started by president Edgar Wayburn in 1967 leads to passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act designating more than 103 million acres of parks, wildlife refuges, and wilderness areas.
  • 1981 - Sierra Club and other conservation groups gather more than one million petition signatures urging the ouster of Interior Secretary James Watt.
  • 1984 - Sierra Club Succeeds in having 6.8 million acres of wilderness designed in 18 sates.
  • 1985 - Club successfully supports reauthorization of strengthened Superfund law and Clean Water Act.
  • 1990 - Strengthened Clean Air Act enacted by Congress in spite of veto threat by President George Bush, thanks to a Sierra Club campaign.
  • 1991 - Club helps defeat Johnson-Wallop energy bill, which would allowed drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
  • 1993 - Sierra Club defeats the "Wise Use Movement" legislation designed to undermine environmental and safety laws in 29 states.
  • 1994 - California Desert Protection Act signed into law, after an eight-year Club campaign.
  • 1995 - Club delivers over a million signatures on Environmental Bill of Rights to defend against the "War on the Environment"
  • 1996 - Club wins Clean Air lawsuit in Colorado over pollution in Mt. Zirkel Wilderness requiring $145 million in power plant emissions controls and $4 million in penalties - a record settlement for a citizen suit.
  • 1996 - Club's Utah wilderness campaign helps pressure President Clinton to create Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument, protecting 1.7 million acres.
  • 1997 - Club is instrumental in pushing passage of the Environmental Protection Agency's new clean air standards to reduce the levels of dangerous soot and smog in our air.
  • 1998 - Sierra Club plays key role in election of pro-environment candidates in 38 of the 43 top priority Congressional races.
  • 1999 - After campaign by Sierra Club and Amnesty International, Russian environmental activist Alexander Nikitin acquitted of espionage charges and set free.
  • 1999 - Past Sierra Club president Edgar Wayburn presented the Medal of Freedom.
  • 1999 - Sierra Club successfully pressures the EPA to adopt stronger emissions standards for sport utility vehicles and light trucks.
  • 2000 - Sierra Club pushes successfully for the creation of eight new national monuments, protecting rare Giant Sequoias, threatened sections of the Grand Canyon and other treasures.
  • 2001 - WIth strong public support and pressure form the Sierra Club and other groups, the EPA adopts standards to reduce the level of arsenic in municipal drinking water.
  • 2001 - The EPA announced that General Electric must pay to clean PCBs from the Hudson River. The Club had long sought such a clean-up.
  • 2002 - A bill was signed into law protecting nearly 500,000 acres of Mojave Desert wilderness in southern Nevada as President Bush signs the Clark County Conservation of Public Lands and Natural Resources Act. Another enacted wilderness bill added about 57,000 acres to areas in central California.
    - The Club's long-standing campaign to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) pays off when U.S. Senate rejects proposal to open ANWR to oil drilling.
  • 2003 Club leads effort to defeat an anti-environmental federal energy production bill that would have subsidized a new generation of nuclear and coal-fired power plants.
  • 2004 - Club and allies block proposals to allow oil and gas development in Montana's Rocky Mountain Front and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Club also blocks attempt to lift moratorium on oil leasing off California, Florida, and the East Coast.
  • 2005 - Club legal victory forces Bush administration to abandon plans for a logging project on the Grand Canyon's north rim. Club holds first-ever Sierra Summit -- a national convention and exposition.
  • 2006 - Club lawsuit succeeds in protecting Giant Sequoia National Monument from Bush administration plan to allow commercial logging.
  • 2007 - Club encourages Congress to pass a Renewable Energy Standard that requires utilities to produce 15 percent of their power from clean, renewable energy by 2020.
  • 2008 - Club continued its string of successes, stopping construction of 68 new coal-fired power plants. Club wins injunction to block wolf-killing in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.
  • 2009 - Protections secured for 26 million acres of land, including two million acres of new wilderness and four new national parks, in largest public lands conservation effort in 20 years.
    - 200,000 kids discover the joy of the natural world through the Sierra Club's outdoor programs.
  • 2010 - Video of accomplishments.
    Between 2010 and 2011, the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign helps retire over 80 of the country's 500 coal-fired power plants and begin replacing them with clean energy.
  • 2011 - The Sierra Club wins a campaign to preserve one million acres around the Grand Canyon as off-limits to uranium mining. In addition, the Club achieves the milestone of defeating 150 proposed new coal-fired power plants, and reaches 1.4 million members and supporters.
  • 2011 - The Club's Beyond Coal Campaign received a $50 million gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies.
  • 2012 -- Influenced by Club petitions and member support, the U.S. Department of the Interior releases plan to protect 11 million acres of the Western Arctic Reserve from oil and gas drilling. This is the largest administrative lands conservation action in over 30 years.
See more at: Highlights of the Sierra Club's History.

Member Board of Directors elected by members.

Executive Team Structure
Michael Brune is the Executive Director.
He oversees a staff at headquarters in San Francisco, the Legislative Office in Washington DC. plus 9 regional field offices and offices in Sacramento and Canada.
Annual Budget: $50 Million

Past Presidents:

Local Organizations:
Members belong to one of 65 chapters in the US and Canada. There is usually 1 chapter per state, but California has 13 chapters.
Chapters are divided into 390 groups of 1,500 - 2,500 members usually along geographic boundaries, but there are also special interest groups e.g. Singles.


.6 cents of every dollar donated goes to the implementation of conservation programs.

Influencing Public Policy: 40.2%
Information and Education: 11.9%
Outdoor Activities:         8.7%
Membership:                21.1%
Chapter Support:            0.7%
Fundraising Affiliates:     3.7%
Fundraising Sierra Club:    6.6%
General Administrative:     7.1%

Source Wilderness Guardian Statement

Federal Parks, Recreation Areas, ...
Sierra Club® and "Explore, enjoy and protect the planet"® are registered trademarks of the Sierra Club.

last updated 22 Feb 2014