Howard Zahniser

Olaus Murrie, Howard Zahniser and Adolph Murrie on Cathedral Mountain Olaus Murrie, Howard Zahniser and Adolph Murrie on Cathedral Mountain

Howard Clinton Zahniser was the champion and primary writer of the Wilderness Act of 1964, which created the National Wilderness Preservation System. He conceived of the initial idea, wrote the original bill, oversaw 66 edits of the bill, testified before Congress at 18 hearings, built an unusually broad coalition of support for the bill, and died only four months before President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the bill into law.

Zahniser, or “Zahnie,” as he was known by his friends, graduated in 1928 with a bachelor's degree in English from Greenville College. In 1930, he joined the U.S. Biological Survey, and in 1944 he became the executive secretary of the budding Wilderness Society and editor of their journal The Living Wilderness. Additionally, among many other roles, Zahniser wrote for Nature Magazine and served as the third president of the Thoreau Society. Greenville College awarded Zahniser an honorary Doctor of Letters degree in 1957.