Log on to the Friends of Allegheny Wilderness website today! pawild.org

A unique connection for the Allegheny region is our ties to the architect of the Wilderness Act of 1964, Howard Zahniser.

Zahniser was born in Franklin in 1906 and Tionesta, a town on the southwest boundary of the Allegheny National Forest, became his hometown. Zahniser, or "Zahnie" as he was known to many, was executive director of The Wilderness Society from 1945 until his untimely death in 1964, and was the lead author of the federal Wilderness Act of 1964 which established America's National Wilderness Preservation System. He is buried in Tionesta, within a stone's throw of his beloved Allegheny River.

In March of 2001, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) approved the marker application proposed by the Warren-based Friends of Allegheny Wilderness (FAW), to be installed in Tionesta in honor of Zahnie. The dedication took place on Monday, August 13. FAW worked closely with the PHMC, the Forest County Historical Society, The Wilderness Society, the Pew Wilderness Center, and others to make this event a huge success. The dedication was an important end in itself to honor a great Pennsylvanian, but also served as an opportunity to educate the public about the value of wilderness.

The ceremony was enthusiastically attended by more than 70 wilderness aficionados including Congressman John Peterson; Howard Zahniser's sons Ed and Matt, and sister Helen Zahniser Snyder; Doug Scott, Policy Director of the Pew Wilderness Center; Deputy Secretary of Agriculture under President Carter, Rupert Cutler; Allegheny National Forest Supervisor Kevin Elliott; Melyssa Watson and Darrell Knuffke of The Wilderness Society and many others who could well be mentioned.

FAW is furthering Zahnie's wilderness vision by working toward the designation of additional wilderness areas in the Allegheny National Forest. These additions will make a fine tribute to the life and work of Howard Zahniser, whose 100th birthday anniversary occurred in February of 2006.

The most moving speech of the day certainly was given by Howard Zahniser's son Ed, a writer and poet who lives in West Virginia.

For more information about efforts to protect wilderness in the Keystone State's only national forest, log on to pawild.org today!

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