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The Sierra Club As An Interest Group

1861 words - 7 pages

The Sierra Club as an Interest Group

The Sierra Club is a national organization dedicated to the preservation of the environment. Founded in 1892 in California by conservationist John Muir, the Club is made up of 750,000 people devoted to the exploration, enjoyment, and the protection of the natural environmental. Headquartered in San Francisco, it has numerous state and regional chapters taking part in the fight for protection.

According to Janda, an important part of pluralism was that new interest groups form as a matter of course when the need arises (Janda 176). Such is the case with the Sierra Club. With the establishment of Yosemite National Park by the US Congress in 1890, the Club formed two years later in 1892 to lead a campaign to defeat a proposed reduction in the boundaries of the Park. Moreover, the Sierra Club formed when there was a need and rising interest in environmental preservation.

Another important aspect of interest group formation is leadership. Founding the Sierra Club, John Muir was an explorer, naturalist and writer devoted to the environment. Campaigning for the conservation of land, water and forests in the United States, he helped influence congress to pass the Yosemite National Park Bill and persuaded President Teddy Roosevelt to protect 150 million acres of forest reserves. His devotion and effort helped many people begin to understand the importance of conservation. Not just confined to information in books, his commitment allowed people to experience nature for themselves.

Who is being organized is also an important factor. Regarding the Sierra Club, a range of people were organized. Whether rich, educated, businessmen, farmers, or women, environmental protection is important to many people. As Janda stated "people join because they care about the environment, not because it lobbies on issues related to their profession" (187). Furthermore the Sierra Club was successfully organized due to the fact that there were so many like-minded individuals interested in environmental preservation. Moreover, a disturbance (the proposed boundary changes), the leadership of John Muir, and numerous like-minded individuals are variables that contributed.

The mission of the Sierra Club is environmental preservation and protection. It does this by taking on a variety of roles. Representation is a key role. The Sierra Club represents the environment and avid supporters of environmental protection before the government. The Club lobbyists provide a voice for ecological concerns (Janda 174).

Participation is also a function of the Sierra Club. With 750,000 members, the Club can take collective action. As Janda suggests, with thousands of participants taking part in the fight to stop urban sprawl, protect forests from deforestation, stop global warming and protect wildlife from extinction, the club stands a much better chance of being heard than a single individual pushing for environmental protection (175). ...

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