Howard Zahniser was the primary author of the Wilderness Act of 1964. A school teacher piqued young Zahnie’s interest in birds and birding. In 1930, he began working for the Bureau of Biological Survey. There he worked under J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling and Ira N. Gabrielson, and absorbed the love of wilderness from naturalists Edward N. Preble, Olaus J. Murie, and others. In 1945, Zahnie went to work for the Wilderness Society as its executive secretary and magazine editor. With David Brower and the Sierra Club, he helped lead the successful fight in the early 1950’s to defeat the proposed Echo Park Dam in Dinosaur National Monument.
Trained as editor, writer, and publicist, he knew bureaucracy from the inside. And all Zahnie’s work was informed by a deep religious sense and his immersion in the writings of Dante Alighieri, William Blake, and Henry David Thoreau.