John Muir (1838-1914) was a famous and influential naturalist and conservationist who founded the Sierra Club in 1892 and was its president until he died. Throughout his life, this man from Scotland was also a farmer, inventor, sheepherder, explorer and writer.
Early on, he championed the idea of federally protected natural parks. In the well-known story, a camping trip with President Theodore Roosevelt in Yosemite in May 1903 eventually resulted in the president signing federal legislation to return Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove from state back to federal control as part of the Yosemite National Park. Muir vehemently opposed damming the Hetch Hetchy Valley for a new water supply for San Francisco, but President Woodrow Wilson gave his approval and signed the federal Raker Act in 1913.
Muir’s writings also helped convince the federal government to protect the Sierra Nevada’s Sequoia area and the Colorado River’s Grand Canyon as national parks.
Among the many sites named in his honor is the Muir Woods National Monument, a grove of redwoods north of San Francisco. The John Muir National Historic Site is located in the Alhambra Valley, near Martinez, California, where the Park Service annually holds a Birthday-Earth Day event to mark Muir’s birthday (April 21) and Earth Day (April 22).
Due to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, the John Muir National Historic Site is temporarily closed to visitors.