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LeConte Memorial - A Sierra Club Legacy by Elaine Gorman (PDF) (2012)
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John Muir Fact Sheeet (PDF)
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(Quicktime Movie 48 MB )
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Le Conte Memorial Lodge by Steven Finacom
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Sierra Club Environmental Education Program
LeConte Memorial Lodge 1904-2004

Bruce Hamilton, Sierra Club Conservation DirectorThe Sierra Club: Commitment to Environmental Education

Bruce Hamilton, Conservation Director,
Sierra Club

Remarks at the LeConte Memorial Lodge Rededication Ceremony,
July 3, 2004

Most people think of the Sierra Club as a powerful public policy advocacy organization. We are commonly recognized as the most influential and largest grassroots environmental lobby in the country. We are the group that keeps the oil companies out of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the dams out of the Grand Canyon. We took Vice President Dick Cheney to the Supreme Court over the secret deals he cut with Enron and other energy companies. We fight for environmental justice by helping local communities force polluters to clean up their toxic waste. We protect the giant sequoias in California and the Everglades in Florida. We endorse pro-environmental candidates and work to get them elected, including Senator John Kerry in this 2004 Presidential contest. And it all started here in Yosemite over 100 years ago where our first President and Founder, John Muir, fought to establish, expand and defend Yosemite National Park.

This is all true. We agitate for environmental protection, preservation, environmental justice and conservation. And as Conservation Director I am the Chief Agitator of the Club and my role is to travel the country and stir up people to take action.

But the biggest threat to the Earth and to national parks like Yosemite is not energy companies, logging companies, chemical companies, or anti-environmentalists in the Congress and the Bush Administration. The biggest threat is apathy.

There are two ways to combat apathy.

The first is agitation -- organizing the powerless against money and established power. we have done this for over 100 years, and plan to continue for the next century. This is in the tradition of all the great social change agents from Martin Luther King to Caesar Chavez, to Mahatma Gandhi.

But there is a second more powerful and absolutely essential approach to combating apathy, and that is through love and knowledge.

No one will feel compelled to protect and defend the earth if first they don't love and know the earth. And this essential task is the role of environmental education.

Think about it. The things you are willing to fight for are the things you hold dearest and know the best -- your family, your home, your neighborhood, your country. And for many of us in the Sierra Club this short list includes the earth.

And there is no more fitting place to discuss and celebrate environmental education then at LeConte Lodge on this historic day. For long before there was the first National Park Service naturalist or ranger -- in fact long before there was a National Park Service -- there was a Sierra Club environmental education center in Yosemite known as LeConte Lodge to serve the public. For 100 years there have been Sierra Club volunteers in Yosemite teaching love and understanding of nature and Yosemite.

Today we celebrate this milestone of providing service to the public and this partnership with the federal government and the National Park Service. One hundred years of teaching the public to know, love, respect and defend the earth.

What is not known to most members of the public is that the public policy advocacy that the Sierra Club is so famous for is just a small fraction of the work that we do. Over 90% of what the Sierra Club does can be broadly characterized as environmental public education. We publish books about nature and a national magazine -- SIERRA-- that reaches over 1 million readers and appears in thousands of public libraries. We have a youth program to take kids out in nature, including disadvantaged children from the inner cities. We have a Sierra Student Coalition to engage high school and college youth, and run local and national outings to introduce the public to the wonders of nature. We host public educations forums and publish reports. We also communicate with the public through our website and electronic newsletters.

We do all this with the same spirit that lies behind the founding of LeConte Lodge -- to explore, enjoy, and protect the earth.

Joseph LeConte was reported to have been so excited by Yosemite that this renowned scholar raised his arms and shouted in exuberant joy. Let us memorialize him and kick off a second century of environmental education at LeConte Lodge by raising our hands and shouting in unison and with great joy: "I love Yosemite!"

[Crowd shouted, "I love Yosemite!"]



Rededication Ceremony

Re-Dedication of LeConte Memorial Lodge
(Photo Album)

Michael Reynolds, National Park Service, Yosemite National Park
Bernie Zaleha, Vice-President, Sierra Club
Bruce Hamilton, Conservation Director, Sierra Club
Bonnie Gisel, Curator, LeConte Memorial Lodge
Harold Wood, Chair, Sierra Club LeConte Memorial Lodge Committee

Centennial Day Photo Album

Rededication Photo Album

Learn more about the LeConte Lodge Centennial.

Would you like to hear news about the LeConte Memorial Lodge? Sign up for our LeConte Lodge Forum e-mail list.

Information and Donations

For more information, during the summer contact Sierra Club LeConte Memorial Lodge Curator, P.O. Box 755, Yosemite, CA 95389, 1-209-372-4542; e-mail:

During the winter, contact LeConte Lodge Committee Chair, Harold Wood, P.O. Box 3543, Visalia, CA 93278; phone: (559) 697-3525; e-mail:

Tax deductible donations to support the new exhibits and renovation efforts of the LeConte Memorial can be made to "Sierra Club Foundation," marked for the "LeConte Lodge Fund."

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