About Us

We are dedicated to the ecological management of our federal public forestlands. Our goal is to ensure that these lands are managed to provide optimal ecological conditions to support and restore the full complement of native biodiversity in these forest ecosystems, which have been severely degraded and damaged by decades of commercial logging and suppression of wildland fires.

JMP recognizes that the federal timber sales program is the primary obstacle to true ecological management of our national forests and other federal forestlands.  Land managers’ budgets and salaries depend in large part upon timber sales receipts generated by logging projects on our public lands, and logging corporations, who get rich by purchasing government timber for pennies on the dollar, aggressively lobby Congress to continue the U.S. government’s commercial logging program on our federal lands.

This highly politicized system of perverse incentives forces otherwise well-meaning agency managers to ignore or subordinate the needs of native wildlife species in favor of commercial logging projects.  Ecological science is frequently either ignored or misrepresented by federal land managers in their attempts to publicly justify destructive timber sales as being somehow ecologically benign or beneficial.  Old growth trees are felled, and often entire forests are razed or heavily degraded by the resulting logging.  Post-fire timber sales clearcut entire watersheds, removing tens of thousands of acres of vital post-fire habitat (standing snags, downed logs, patches of native shrubs, conifer regeneration, and hardwoods) upon which so many wildlife species depend.  Science itself is undermined.

JMP believes that the federal timber sales program must be ended in order for ecological management of our national forests and other federal forestlands to occur.  JMP utilizes scientific research, public education, and forest legal defense work to ensure that our National Forests are managed for ecology, recreational enjoyment, and scientific study.

Three principles guide our work

We look at the big picture.

Many years of experience have taught us that, as long as the commercial logging program continues on our National Forests, our public forests will be treated mainly as commodities, and the needs of rare and imperiled wildlife species will be secondary at best. Numerous species, such as the California spotted owl, are declining where logging is allowed, and are only maintaining stable populations on protected forests like National Parks. But such protected forests comprise only a small portion of the landscape. We need to protect all National Forests in order to recover at-risk wildlife populations.


We put boots on the ground.

In searching for the truth about natural processes and the health and well being of native plant and animal communities we spend hundreds of hours in the forest every year. We are intimately familiar with the areas we seek to protect and try to use our local knowledge to educate and inspire others to value, appreciate and protect these ecosystems and their inhabitants. We frequently lead members of community groups, reporters, and policy-makers on forest education site visits on our National Forests.

We want the public to be involved.

For management of our public forest lands to shift away from commercial extraction and be focused on providing optimal conditions for native biodiversity, people are going to need to get involved! This is why we strive to educate the public through outreach to community organizations, schools, churches, environmental and political groups, and the media. We teach people about the amazing ecosystems which exist on our federal public forest lands, encouraging their participation to protect and maintain these areas for generations to come.

The John Muir Project is a project of Earth Island Institute,
a nonprofit environmental organization founded by David Brower.

Earth Island Institute was founded in 1982 with the mission of developing and supporting projects that counteract threats to the biological and cultural diversity that sustains the environment. These Projects create a consortium of grassroots campaigns that operate independent from one another yet benefit from collective experience and ideas. Earth Island provides these Projects with administrative support and operates as their fiscal sponsor. In the Spring of 1997, under the guidance of David Brower, Mr. Chad Hanson and Mr. David Orr became part of the Earth Island consortium when they launched the John Muir Project.

Chad Hanson Ph.D.

Chad Hanson Ph.D.

Director and Principal Ecologist
Chad Hanson co-founded the John Muir Project in 1996. He first became involved in national forest protection after hiking the 2,700-mile length of the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada with his older brother in 1989. During this hike he witnessed firsthand the devastation caused by rampant commercial logging on our National Forests in California, Oregon and Washington.

Chad finished his Bachelor of Science degree from UCLA after completing the Pacific Crest Trail and then attended law school at the University of Oregon, during which time he also began his career as an environmental advocate working for Native Forest Council and volunteering for the Sierra Club. Chad earned his law degree in 1995, and started the John Muir Project shortly thereafter.

In 2003 Chad returned to school, and earned his Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of California at Davis in 2007, with a research focus on forest and fire ecology and the rare wildlife species that depend upon post-fire habitat in forests of the Sierra Nevada and elsewhere in the western U.S.. He has published an impressive list of scientific research papers on forest and fire ecology, wildlife use of burned forest and fire history and trend.

This past year he and Dominick DellaSala, Ph.D. co-edited and authored several chapters in a new book entitled The Ecological Importance of Mixed-Severity Fires: Nature's Phoenix which is being published by academic publisher Elsevier due out in June/July of 2015.

Rachel M. Fazio

Rachel M. Fazio

Associate Director and Staff Attorney
Rachel Fazio was inspired to fight for creatures who cannot speak for themselves after seeing the Greenpeace harp seal special on PBS when she was barely 9 years old. She decided early on that she would pursue this fight as a lawyer.

Rachel graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a Bachelor of Science in Conservation and Resource Studies. She then worked for a small company helping other companies comply with regulations regarding hazardous materials and public safety before attending McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. During law school she interned with the United Nations Environment Program in Nairobi, Kenya and worked with several state agencies including the Department of Oil Spill Prevention and Response.

After law school Rachel worked briefly in the corporate world before finding a place with the John Muir Project in 1998. Since being with the John Muir Project, Rachel has filed numerous lawsuits against the United States Forest Service for violating federal environmental laws when planning their timber sales, and she has protected hundreds of thousands of acres of vital forest habitat from destruction. Over time her duties have expanded to encompass more than just litigation, but also developing strategy, day to day accounting, mobilizing staff and volunteers and creating this website.

Rachel is looking forward to finding more creative ways to introduce people to national forest issues and the amazing habitat in need of protection.

Christina (Christy) Sherr

Christina (Christy) Sherr

Outreach Coordinator
Christy Sherr joined the John Muir Project this year (2015) as their new Outreach Coordinator, after several years of volunteering with JMP and working last year as a wildlife surveyor on our Black-backed Woodpecker Nest Density Study.

Before joining the John Muir Project as staff, Christy has been fortunate enough to have enjoyed many diverse work experiences, including avian field biology, environmental education, and interpretive park planning.

Christy served as a State Park Ranger throughout California for 20 years, and was a Ranger Naturalist with the National Park Service for 5 years in Sequoia and King's Canyon National Parks.

Christy is a lifelong birder with a degree from Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo in Wildlife Biology.

Samantha Spagnolo

Samantha Spagnolo

Forest Policy Advocate
During her freshman year of college, Samantha watched the legendary Jane Goodall speak at a Georgia State University event. Goodall’s energy rippled with force as she motivated people to create positive environmental change, but Samantha, an art major at the time, was monumentally affected by Goodall’s words, “our global situation is that of a train on a track going towards a brick wall of destruction.”

Samantha, a romantic at heart, has entirely too much love and hope for the future of this earth to sit back and do nothing. She immediately transferred to a more fitting university, changed her major, and proudly held leadership roles in several environmentally focused clubs along her journey towards achieving a Geography/ Environmental Studies and Biology bachelor’s degree from Millersville University of Pennsylvania.

She gained much of her advocacy experience during her time volunteering at Citizens’ Climate Lobby and is grateful to continue her work with the admirable and valuable team at the John Muir Project. Samantha is glad to dedicate her voice towards forest advocacy with an organization that urges policy action to reflect the promise of a better world, one with more protected forests available to support native plant and animal biodiversity, healthy watersheds and helping us to combat and reverse climate change impacts to our environment.

Who we partner with

Green Info Network
Wild Nature Institute
Center For Biological Diversity
California Chaparral Institute
Geos Institute
Conservation Congress

The battle we have fought, and are still fighting for the forests is a part of the eternal conflict between right and wrong, and we cannot expect to see the end of it. … So we must count on watching and striving for these trees, and should always be glad to find anything so surely good and noble to strive for.

John Muir, “The National Parks and Forest Reservations” in a speech by John Muir
(Proceedings of the Meeting of the Sierra Club Held November 23, 1895.) Published in Sierra Club Bulletin, (1896)