Polly Dyer (she/her)

By Aster Starling

A drawing of a clam shell in various shades of brown and beige.
“Clam Shell for the Coast” by Anonymouse.

Polly Dyer, who preferred to be called Polly, did grand work in Washington that grew from a passion that never faded. Born February 13, 1920, through childhood she would spend her days on hikes across the pacific northwest. Her father’s position in the coast guard meant she often moved as a child. Hiking was how she found peace in the instability that comes with a military family. Wherever she ended up there would be new trees and mountains and rivers to trek. It would be a new adventure with views she had never seen before.

Eventually she found herself in a small fishing village in Alaska where she met her soon-to-be husband Johnny on a hike. He was a member of a small club of environmental activists and hikers called the Sierra Club, which he invited her to join. Little did he know she would develop that club into a nationally influential environmental protection lobby that still exists to this day. Though she joined because of her relation to her husband who was already a member she quickly became a passionate organizer among them and eventually their director.

During Polly’s time working in the club and reaching out to governors and congress alike, she kept her focus entirely on convincing them to make change. It was only years later that she realized she was often the only women in rooms of hundreds of men. When asked about how she handled being a woman working with government in the 1950 she said, “It didn’t occur to me that it was unusual.” Later commenting that she was just so focused on making the most of the time that she had on the floor or testifying that she never took the time to think about it.

Among the lands she defended from logging and mining were Alaska, the Olympic Peninsula, Mount Rainer, the north cascades and the alpine lakes. Her greatest achievement in conservation was in lobbying for the passing of the Wilderness act of 1964. To this day it protects more than 800 federally designated wilderness areas. After the act was passed, she went on to achieve a formal education, graduating in 1970 at University of Washington Seattle where the special archives keep records of her to this day. From there she never stopped testifying and educating. As long as there was nature to protect, she was there to defend it. Every day spent outside appreciating pine trees and hiking trails in the pacific northwest in clean air is in part the fault of Polly Dyer.


Polly Dyer passed away at the age of 96 in 2017

having never stopped hiking even in her 90’s.


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Badass Womxn and Enbies in the Pacific Northwest Volume 2 Copyright © 2023 by Badass Zine Machine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.