Foundation of the Sierra Club

John Muir (1838–1914) is considered one of America’s most important naturalists and conservationists. Muir, who had spent considerable time studying the flora and fauna of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, became a prominent champion of the ideals of wilderness in the western United States.

He was also an early advocate of protecting endangered environments, the heavily damaged and exploited Yosemite area being a case in point. Muir’s efforts were rewarded in 1890, when Yosemite National Park was created. In 1892, to defend the park against exploitation by special interests, Muir founded the Sierra Club, the first grassroots environmental organization in the United States.

Since then, the Sierra Club has strengthened its advocacy of environmental protection. Today it is one of the world’s largest environmental grassroots organizations, with around 1.4 million members.

Further Readings: 
  • Cohen, Michael P. The History of the Sierra Club, 1892-1970. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1988.
  • Muir, John. Our National Parks. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1901.