Sierra Club-Cypress Group Greenville NC

The Sierra Club was founded by the Scottish-American preservationist, John Muir. It is an environmental organization that began on May 28, 1892. It has chapters in Puerto Rico, Washington D.C and all 50 United States. The Cypress Group of the North Carolina Chapter, includes 19 counties in Eastern and Northeastern Coastal North Carolina. This makes it the largest Group in the State geographically.

The club operates only in the US and is different from Sierra Club Canada. John Muir was the club’s first president. He is also the longest serving president after 20 years in the position.

First Large Scale Environmental Organization In The World

The club was one of the first large scale environmental organizations in the world. It is involved with lobbying politicians to promote environmentalist policies. Some of the issues they have been focused on include;

  • Promoting sustainable energy
  • Mitigating global warming
  • Opposing the use of coal

 

The counties of the Cypress Group are Beaufort, Bertie, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Greene, Hertford, Hyde, Lenoir, Martin, Northampton, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Pitt, Tyrrell, Washington, and Wayne.

History

In 1889, Journalist Robert Underwood Johnson encouraged Muir to form an “association”. It was to help protect the Sierra Nevada. Preliminary meetings were held to plan the group. Journalist Johnson worked with John Muir on a successful campaign. It was to create a large Yosemite National Park. The park surrounded the much smaller state park which had been created in 1864. This campaign succeeded in 1890.

The first goal of the Club included establishing parks. These were Glacier and Mount Rainier national parks. It convinced the California legislature to give Yosemite Valley to the federal government. This preserved the coastal redwood forests of California.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the Sierra Club functioned as a social and recreational society. Its functions included;

  • conducting outings,
  • maintaining trails
  • building huts and lodges in the Sierra

 

Preservation campaigns included an effort to enlarge Sequoia National Park. This was achieved in 1926. For three decades the club worked to protect and preserve Kings Canyon National Park. It was established in 1940.

The Sierra Club was quickly a national conservation organization. Preservationists took the offensive with wilderness proposals. The club’s Biennial Wilderness Conferences were launched in 1949. The launch was in concert with The Wilderness Society. They became an important force in the campaign. In 1964 they secured passage of the Wilderness Act.

In the 1990s, club members along with about 2,000 members formed the John Muir Sierrans (JMS). It was an internal caucus. The group worked to promote changes to club positions. They favored a zero-cut forest policy on public lands. A few years later they dealt with decommissioning Glen Canyon Dam. JMS was successful in changing club positions on both counts.

In 2008, several Sierra Club officers quit in protest. This was after the Sierra Club agreed to promote products by Clorox. The company had been named one of a “dangerous dozen” chemical companies. This label was by the Public Interest Research Group in 2004. Carl Pope was the Sierra Club chairman at the time. He said the deal brought the club US$1.3 million over the four-year term of the contract. In 2011, Carl Pope stepped down amid discontent about the Clorox deal and other issues.

Outdoor Programs

The Sierra Club offers a number of great outdoor activities. These include;

1. Mountaineering

The first Sierra Club excursion was to Yosemite Valley. It occurred in 1901 and was organized by William Colby. A lot of mountaineering inventions have come from the club’s members. The most famous pair from the club are Norman Clyde and Jules Eichorn. They completed many of the first Sierra Nevada climbs.

Mountaineering activities have declined since the 1980s. This is because of an increasing focus on political activity. Concerns about financial liability were also a reason for the decline. Chapters in California continue to maintain large mountaineering programs.

2. Hiking and outings

The club organizes hiking tours. The website has a “hiking near me” function

David R. Brower joined the 10th Mountain Division during World War II. He managed the High Trip program from 1947 to 1954. He also served as a Major in the Army Reserve.

The historic High Trips are large expeditions. There have been more than a hundred participants and crew. They have given way to smaller and more many excursions. These are held across the United States and abroad. The outings form a major part of Sierra Club culture. In some chapters, the trips constitute the majority of member activity.

Other chapters sponsor very few outdoor or recreational activities. This is mainly because they are focused solely on political advocacy. Generally, chapters in California are much more active with regard to outdoor activities.

3. Sierra Club awards

The Club presents many annual awards. These awards include;

i. The Sierra Club John Muir Award- which is the organization’s top award

ii. The John Muir Award – given to an individual with “a distinguished record of achievement. This is in national or international conservation causes.

iii. Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography – honors excellence in conservation photography

iv. The Francis P. Farquhar Mountaineering Award – recognizes contributions to mountaineering

v. The Edgar Wayburn Award – for public officials

vi. The Rachel Carson Award – for journalists and writers

vii. The William O. Douglas Award – for legal work,
viii. The EarthCare Award – for international environmental protection and conservation.

Budget and Funding

Donors provide most of the funding for the club. Some notable donors include;

· David Gelbaum

· Michael Bloomberg

· William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

· The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

· Democracy Alliance

· Tides Foundation Advocacy Fund

Criticism

The Sierra Club has been criticized by anti-immigration groups. It was for opposing Trump’s plan to create a wall on America’s southern border. The representative of Wyoming asked the Justice Department to look into the club. They were to investigate environmental groups. There were claims towards robust political and judicial activism. These necessitated awareness of potential foreign influence within or targeting the groups.

The Sierra Club has a number of involvements. Its members actively take part in political advocacy. The club organizes outdoor recreation activities. It has historically been a notable organization for mountaineering and rock climbing. Members of the Sierra Club first started using and refined what would eventually be called the Yosemite Decimal System of climbing. They were responsible for a substantial amount of the early development of climbing. The Sierra Club organizes wilderness courses, hikes, and occasional alpine expeditions for members. In California, the club is the state’s analog to other state mountaineering clubs. Involved clubs are Mazamas or the Colorado Mountain Club. This is through its outdoor recreation groups.