About Us

The Mission of the Sierra Club is 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 those objectives.

The John Muir Chapter (JMC) is the Wisconsin branch of the Sierra Club, and includes over 15,000 members and supporters located throughout the state.  Our chapter was founded in 1963 by Norm O’Neill of Milwaukee.  The John Muir Chapter has an Executive Committee of 15 elected and appointed volunteer leaders; six local groups; 3 specialty sections; and three paid staff in our office in Madison. 

The John Muir Chapter’s conservation priorities are:

  • Moving from Coal to Clean Energy
  • Moving from Oil to Clean Transportation
  • Blocking Destructive Mining
  • Protecting Water
  • Protecting Native Forests and Wildlife

We accomplish our goals through direct and grassroots legislative and administrative lobbying, education, Outings, litigation, and electing environmental champions to local, state, and federal office.
2013 marked the 50th Anniversary of the Sierra Club - John Muir Chapter's work to explore, enjoy, and protect Wisconsin!  We celebrated our anniversary with a gala event on Earth Day with Executive Director Michael Brune attended by over 200 people held at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.  This milestone gave us the chance to celebrate our extraordinary volunteers, reflect on past accomplishments, and recommit to future efforts to protect Wisconsin’s air, water, and wildlife for generations to come.

Our Chapter was named after famous conservationist John Muir who spent his formative years on a farm at Fountain Lake in Marquette County, Wisconsin. He lived there and at his family’s Hickory Hill farm from age 11 until leaving to attend UW-Madison in 1862.  After he left the university, Muir embarked upon an epic journey that would take him to Canada and, after suffering a factory accident in Indiana, trigger him to trek across the United States and found the Sierra Club in California.

"Oh that glorious Wisconsin wilderness” –John Muir

But it was those early connections with nature in Scotland and Wisconsin where Muir first developed his dedication to protecting wild places. In Muir’s book, My Boyhood Home and Youth he describes the flora and fauna that thrive within the prairie, wet, sedge meadow and hardwood forest which surrounds Fountain Lake. In fact, the first piece of wilderness Muir tried to preserve was on Fountain Lake.  Although Muir was unable to secure protections for Fountain Lake in his lifetime, his boyhood home was later designated as John Muir Memorial County Park and Muir State Natural Area. Other public lands followed with the establishment of the adjacent Fox River National Wildlife Refuge and nearby Observatory Hill State Natural Area.

In 2014 the Sierra Club – John Muir Chapter joined forces with the
National Heritage Land Trust (NHLT) and other conservation organizations to purchase 198 acres of woodland, prairie, and wetland habitat, including 38 acres of the original John Muir family farm.  Someday we hope to join others in efforts to protect Fountain Lake and Hickory Hill in order to fully protect Muir’s legacy in Wisconsin.    

Sierra Club members from throughout the nation contributed to protect Muir’s legacy through this visionary effort.   Although the land purchase was completed on September 5, 2014 thanks to major grant funding NHLT secured through the Knowles Nelson Stewardship and Natural Resources Damage Assessment Programs, individual donations are still needed to restore and maintain this historically and ecologically significant area, which is now part of a 1,400-acre protected landscape that will one day be owned by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ice Age Trail Alliance.  It will be open to the public, allowing future generations to retrace Muir’s footsteps. 
Protect Muir’s boyhood home with your secure, online donation or by sending a check to NHLT, 303 S. Paterson St. #6, Madison, Wisconsin, 53703 (write “Muir” in the memo).