“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe”
– John Muir, founder of Sierra Club US.
In 1969 a group gathered at Simon Fraser University to determine whether there was enough interest to form a Sierra Club in British Columbia. Many had been or still were members of the Sierra Club US. They formed a BC society called the Sierra Club of British Columbia without formalizing this first with the Sierra Club US. This had to be dealt with later by the US executive board. The group’s first campaign was opposition to the raising of the High Ross Dam in Washington State and the resultant flooding of the Skagit valley. They also were concerned about logging in Cypress Bowl and advocated for what would become known as the West Coast Trail to be part of Pacific Rim National Park.
In 1971, a group in Victoria launched a campaign to protect the magnificent forests and lakes of the Nitinat Triangle. They were impressed with the example of the group in Vancouver and wanted to have a group of their own. So they took some Sierra Club US letterhead, erased the “US” and stenciled “Sierra Club Victoria” in its place. By the time Sierra Club US found out, the Nitinat campaign had been won in their name.
Though today’s Sierra Club BC is no longer a Sierra Club US affiliate—we’re completely independent of Sierra Club US and Sierra Club Canada—we maintain close ties and take pride in our shared objectives to protect wilderness areas, educate people about nature and connect the dots between climate science and government legislation.
With our supporters’ help, Sierra Club BC and our hard working local groups around the province have succeeded in protecting millions of hectares of B.C. wilderness.
1969: Sierra Club of BC begins as the first Canadian entity of Sierra Club US becoming a local group within the Pacific Northwest Chapter along with Washington and Oregon states. This small group of determined volunteers launches a 14-year campaign opposing the building of the High Ross Dam and the flooding of Skagit Valley. They also campaign for the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island.
1972: Sierra Victoria is successful in protecting the forests and lakes of the Nitinat Triangle.
1972: Sierra Club of Western Canada is formed, made up of members in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon and NWT. It becomes its own Chapter within Sierra Club US.
1983: Skagit Valley is saved with an agreement signed between Seattle and BC officials in Ottawa.
1987: Haley Lake Ecological Reserve is secured as habitat for endangered white-nosed marmot thanks to the hard work of the Sierra Cowichan local group.
1988: Sierra Lower Mainland’s 14-year campaign for the UBC Endowment Lands successfully results in the formation of Pacific Spirit Park.
1989: Sierra Club of Canada opens an office in Ottawa with Elizabeth May as Executive Director.
1990: Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park is created, protecting diverse forest ecosystems including a large Sitka spruce ecosystem that represents two per cent of B.C.’s remaining old-growth forest.
1992: Sierra Club of Canada becomes a legal entity.
1993: The final report of Sierra Club of Western Canada’s mapping study of Vancouver Island is released, providing an inventory of its remaining old-growth forest.
1994: Sierra Victoria’s four-year battle to protect Victoria’s watershed from logging is successful.
1994: Sierra Club of Western Canada is disbanded and Sierra Club BC is established as a separate Chapter within Sierra Club of Canada.
1994: Rainforest Bus starts touring to inform the public about environmental issues in the rainforest.
1995: The Lower Mainland group is the first Canadian entity to have a website.
1998: Sierra Club BC’s environmental education program launches. Since its inauguration, we’ve reached more than 100,000 B.C. students from Kindergarten to Grade 12.
2000: Clayoquot Sound becomes a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Sierra Club BC and our partners in the Clayoquot Sound Conservation Alliance seek to work collaboratively with First Nations toward lasting conservation solutions for Clayoquot Sound’s remaining ancient rainforest valleys.
2005: Sierra Malaspina celebrates victory in its campaign to stop a highway from being built in Millennium Park.
2005: The Coastal Guardian Watchmen Network is founded, an accredited training program for First Nations focused on monitoring land and water-based resource activities on traditional territories that Sierra Club BC provided input for and continues to support.
2006: After a joint campaign, the provincial government protects 2.2 million hectares of mountain caribou habitat in northeastern B.C.
2006: Sierra Club BC helps launch SeaChoice, a program that helps seafood consumers, chefs and retailers make informed choices that support sustainable seafood practices.
2007: Our global warming campaign helps persuade the B.C. government to adopt world class targets for carbon emission reductions.
2007: Our two sea level maps of the Lower Mainland and Greater Victoria draw public attention to the potential impact of climate change on B.C.’s coastal communities.
2009: 2.1 million hectares of old-growth forest is protected through the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements. The agreements also see the legislation of “lighter-touch” logging, or Ecosystem Based Management (EBM) in an additional 700,000 hectares of the Great Bear Rainforest.
2011: Sierra Club BC and other conservation groups convince the B.C. government to legislate a ban on mining and energy development in the Flathead River Valley.
2011: Juan de Fuca Provincial Park is saved from a proposed resort development after an amazing three-day public hearing and years of Sierra Club BC campaigning for protection of the area.
2013: Sierra Club BC and Sierra Comox Valley celebrate a major milestone in the fight against the proposed Raven Coal Mine. The mine was rejected for lack of consultation with First Nations and for failing to address concerns regarding impacts to drinking water and air quality.
2014: Fish Lake is saved after a heated campaign by Sierra Club BC, other organizations, and First Nations. Taseko’s proposed New Prosperity Mine is declined by the federal government, hopefully for the last time.
2014: Sierra Quadra celebrates the protection of the heart of Quadra parks, a key piece of land connecting two spectacular marine parks featuring a historic portage trail and aboriginal clam garden.
2014: Sierra Club BC and RAVEN Trust launch the groundbreaking Pull Together campaign, raising funds for First Nations legally challenging Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
2015: The Pull Together campaign continues to grow, surpassing $600,000 for First Nations in court challenges against Enbridge.
2016: First Nations win a major court challenge against Enbridge. The challenge is not repealed, marking a final victory for Pull Together that stops the Northern Gateway pipeline after a twelve-year battle.
2016: Sierra Club BC signs the historic Great Bear Rainforest Agreements and wins two prestigious international environmental awards, the Buckminster Fuller Award and the EarthCare Award, for this precedent-setting collaboration.