Howard Zahniser Deserves a place in National Garden of American Heroes

Howard Zahniser Deserves Higher Regard and Increased Recognition in the Pantheon of Great Americans

Without a doubt, Tionesta, Pennsylvania native, The Wilderness Society Executive Director, and Wilderness Act of 1964 author Howard Zahniser (ZON-i-ser) should be included in the new National Garden of American Heroes, slated to be open by July 4th, 2026 — the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

As the human population in this country continues to grow, sprawl continues its expansion into open spaces, and natural settings become more scarce, by the law of supply and demand untrammeled wilderness is going to take on greater significance to Americans for many important reasons.

I believe Howard Zahniser’s Wilderness Act, already considered by many to be the most poetic yet precise legislation ever enacted, will become the singly most important and appreciated work completed by any American. Howard Zahniser has given us an invaluable gift, the full import of which may never be truly known.

In my estimation Zahniser can be thought of as a latter-day Founding Father with the enduring import and quality of his magnanimous efforts, his intellectual and philosophical capacity, and his acute aptitude with and love for the English language. His drafting of the Wilderness Act, shepherding of it through 66 rewrites and 19 public hearings before Congress over a period of eight years, and tireless advocacy for wilderness with all who would listen is unparalleled.

The community of Tionesta and all residents of the Commonwealth have reason to be very proud. Howard Zahniser deserves higher regard and increased recognition not only in the pantheon of great American conservationists, but in the pantheon of great Americans.

Kirk Johnson is Executive Director, Friends of Allegheny Wilderness.

Advocating for Wilderness in the Allegheny National Forest in Warren County

By Friends of Allegheny Wilderness

It is not for the sake of any privileged few that we are thus working so strenuously for wilderness preservation, but rather for all Americans. We feel that the privilege of a wilderness experience is something to which every American is entitled, including those who are not yet born.

Howard Zahniser, author of the Wilderness Act of 1964 (who grew up in Tionesta, Pennsylvania on the banks of the Allegheny River)

Wild Warren County

Warren County, Pennsylvania is currently using an online survey to gather public input about outdoor recreation opportunities in the county.

This presents another great opportunity to advocate that qualifying portions of the Allegheny National Forest be permanently protected from all forms of development under the Wilderness Act of 1964!

As you work your way through the survey, please do so with an eye toward advocating forest preservation, wildlife habitat protection, open space preservation, watershed protection, and the like. Embrace your inner John Muir preservationist, and eschew the compulsion, temptation, and/or peer pressure to knuckle under to a more utilitarian “let’s build stuff up everywhere” outlook!

It is also important to advocate against more developed recreation, “facilities,” commercialization, mountain biking on hiking trails (Jakes Rocks, the existing ATV trails, and logging roads are all more than sufficient for that activity), and the like wherever the opportunity to do so presents itself in the survey.

Friends of Allegheny Wilderness Citizens’ Wilderness Proposal

In the survey, utilize the spaces where you can type in your own thoughts to emphasize those spectacular wild, untrammeled areas of the Allegheny National Forest in Warren County such as the following:

Ask that all be designated as wilderness areas under the Wilderness Act of 1964 as soon as possible!

The whole survey will probably only take you ten or fifteen minutes to complete.

And remember, this survey has to do with Allegheny National Forest lands—therefore every citizen in America is entitled to have input as Allegheny National Forest lands in Warren County are not owned by Warren County, but by everyone in America equally. 

Similarly, the survey also has to do with state lands such as Chapman Dam State Park, state forest lands, and state game lands. So, anyone who lives in Pennsylvania, or travels to Pennsylvania to use these lands, is entitled to have input.

Thank you for helping to protect wilderness in Pennsylvania’s only national forest! 


Join Friends of the Allegheny Wilderness