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Heritage & Heroes

Our Heritage:

For over a century, the Americans who make up Sierra Club have endeavored to explore, enjoy and protect the planet. Founded in 1892, Sierra Club began as a suggestion by Theodore Roosevelt to his friend, legendary naturalist John Muir.

What began as an association of 25 people concerned with the future of California's Sierra Nevada has grown to include over 1 million members and supporters concerned with the security of the nation's outdoor heritage, including hunting and fishing. By leveraging its diverse expertise and manpower Sierra Club has succeeded in helping safeguard over 100 million acres of Wilderness, improved thousands of acres of wildlife habitat, maintained access to public lands by constructing miles of trails and engaged over 14,000 children in outdoor recreation.

Sierra Club is building on this track record of success by encouraging Congress to help open more land to hunting and fishing, working with hunter education programs to improve hunter safety, educating people about "why we hunt" and hosting fishing clinics to help families enjoy the great outdoors. Working with our members, public agencies and partner organizations we are confident we can help build a future that John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt would be proud of.

Our Heroes:

Cecil D. Andrus | Michael Dombeck | William O. Douglas | George Bird Grinnell | Aldo Leopold | Gifford Pinchot | Theodore Roosevelt

Cecil D. Andrus

Secretary of Interior under President Carter, Governor of Idaho and recipient of Sierra Club's Distinguished Service Award in 1979, Cecil D. Andrus has a distinguished record of advancing the cause of conservation. An avid hunter of chukar and big game, Andrus has also been an indefatigable advocate for the restoration of wild salmon runs in the Northwest and presided over the largest single expansion of the National Wildlife Refuge System in U.S. History, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.

Michael Dombeck

A past Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Michael Dombeck grew up in Wisconsin and worked as a fishing guide to pay for his college education. That education was evident in his work with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and the over 200 popular and scholarly articles he has published on the practice of conservation. As Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Dombeck presided over the creation of a policy intended to safeguard 58 million acres of wild national forest lands against development, an achievement that helped him earn Sierra Club's Edgar Wayburn Award in 2001.

William O. Douglas

Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and Director of Sierra Club from 1960 until 1962, William O. Douglas, more than anyone else, shaped the practice of modern conservation law. In a landmark conservation law case, Sierra Club v. Morton, Douglas argued in a dissenting option that natural resources had standing in court to advocate for their own conservation.

An avid outdoorsman, Douglas hiked the entire 2,000 mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. His exploits as a hunter and angler were covered in part in a November 1950 article in Sports Afield in a story titled "A Hunt in Sonora" and a February 1956 Sports Afield article "Steelheading with Justice Douglas."

Douglas was also the recipient of Sierra Club's prestigious John Muir Award and served as an Honorary Vice-President for the Club from 1976 until 1979. Sierra Club named an award for him in 1979, which honors those who have exceptionally endeavored in the practice of conservation law.

George Bird Grinnell

An avid naturalist and trophy hunter, George Bird Grinnell led the founding of the National Audubon Society, Boone & Crockett Club and the organization that is now the Wildlife Conservation Society. A companion of Sierra Club founder John Muir's on Harriman Expedition of 1899 to Alaska, Grinnell was a passionate outdoorsman and lover of the natural world who in his time was one of the first white visitors to the lands of Yellowstone National Park and who helped to establish Glacier National Park in Montana, where a glacier bears his name. As editor of Forest & Stream, one of America's first publications dedicated to hunting and fishing, Grinnell campaigned tirelessly for the adoption of a fair chase ethic and the improvement of wildlife conservation laws. Often overlooked by modern conservationists, Grinnell was a giant among giants who made a lasting contribution to America's outdoor heritage.

Aldo Leopold

Forester, author, sportsman and conservation leader, Aldo Leopold is the father of wildlife management in North America. Best known for his classic book, A Sand County Almanac, Leopold has inspired generations of Americans to be good stewards of the land. During his career as a forester, Leopold first proposed the idea of a National Wilderness Preservation System in 1928, and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness in New Mexico is named in his honor. As an author, he encouraged the development of a "land ethic," defining conservation as "a state of harmony between men and land." As a citizen, Leopold helped found The Wilderness Society.

Leopold fathered 5 children, 2 of whom, A. Starker Leopold and Luna Leopold, have served on Sierra Club's Board of Directors.

Gifford Pinchot

Governor of Pennsylvania, first Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, a co-founder of the Boone & Crockett Club and an Honorary Vice-President of Sierra Club from 1905 until 1912, Gifford Pinchot was a man of great achievement. Born into a family that had made their money in timber, Pinchot graduated from Yale and continued his education at the French National Forestry School from which he helped import the practice of scientific forestry to the United States In 1896 then President Grover Cleveland appointed Pinchot to the National Forest Commission and tasked him with planning the management of America's then small system of federal forest reserves. Pinchot continued his involvement in forestry by co-founding the Yale School of Forestry in 1900. His work on land management endeared him to President Theodore Roosevelt, with whom he would help form the Boone & Crockett Club, and who in 1905 appointed Pinchot the first Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, a role in which he served until 1910. The Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington State is named in his honor.

Theodore Roosevelt

President of the United States, Governor of New York, U.S. Calvary officer and friend of Sierra Club founder John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt's contributions to conservation have yet to be surpassed. An avid trophy hunter, Roosevelt was one of the founders of the Boone & Crockett Club, the organization on which the early Sierra Club was modeled, and which has led active campaigns to prevent Yellowstone National Park and other public lands from being sold to private developers, improve wildlife conservation laws and instill a "fair chase" ethic in American sportsmen. As Governor of New York, Roosevelt created the Palisades Interstate Park, along the Hudson River. As President, Roosevelt established the National Wildlife Refuge System and expanded what is now the National Forest System by 151 million acres. Under his administration the number of U.S. National Parks doubled to include Crater Lake, Wind Cave and Mesa Verde. Roosevelt also established the first protections for the Grand Canyon, designating it a national monument in 1908, as well as establishing 17 other national monuments. Because of these and other contributions, Theodore Roosevelt remains an inspiration to sportsmen to this day.


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