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Ketchum, Idaho 83340

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We pay our respects to honorary BWCC board member:  Ernest Day of Boise, Idaho who passed away on Boise) was a key leader in creating the Sawtooth National Recreation Area in 1972. His aerial photos of Castle Peak helped stop the proposed open pit molybdenum mine there. He also helped designate the Sawtooth Wilderness in 1972.   Update: February 12, 2008, Ernie Day died today, February 12, 2008 in Boise at age 89.

Following are two articles about Ernie Day.
The first appeared in the Idaho Statesman on February 13, 2008
and the second in the Idaho Mountain Express on February 29.

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Here is what Idaho's foremost conservation reporter wrote in the Idaho Statesman:

Idaho environmental pioneer Day dies
Submitted by Rocky Barker on Wed, 02/13/2008 - 9:36am.

One of the last of a generation of early Idaho conservationists, Ernie Day, died Tuesday at 89.

Day’s photograph’s especially his dazzling picture of Castle Peak, helped convince Idahoans and eventually Congress to protect the White Clouds as a part of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. the campaign helped get Cecil Andrus elected in 1970 just as the nation was celebrating its first Earth Day.

Day also was among the leaders of the fight to save the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. He and friends like the late Bruce Bower, Nell Tobias and Ted Trueblood, and younger activists, Jerry Jayne, Ralph Maughan, Russ Brown and Pat Ford pushed to preserve the parts of wild Idaho that today are recognized as among its crown jewels.

A former president of the Idaho Wildlife Federation, Day also served on the national board of the Wilderness Society. The Sierra Club gave him its highest honor, the Ansel Adams Award in 1981.

Political leaders like Church and former Gov. Cecil Andrus rightly get much of the credit for the protection of these and other wild areas in the state. But it was people like Day who prodded and poked, campaigned and fought to make it possible.


Here is the Mt. Express article:
Ernie Day was giant of Idaho conservation
SNRA, River of No Return owed to Day’s days in the saddle
Express Staff Writer

Ernie Day may have captured the nuanced majesty of central Idaho's mountains with his camera, but the mountains captured part of Ernie Day's soul.

Day was a giant in Idaho conservation, and mammoth preservation efforts like the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness and the Wilderness Act itself are at the very least partially due to Day's passion and involvement.

Day died Tuesday, Feb. 12, at the age of 89, and a memorial service was held Friday, Feb. 22, in Boise.

Day comes from an era that included the founding leaders of Idaho conservation, men like Bruce Bowler, Ted Trueblood and Sen. Frank Church.

"These are the heroes of Idaho conservation," said Sawtooth National Recreation Area Recreation Manager Ed Cannady. "They're the last ones who got anything done. We stand on their shoulders. We have the responsibility to finish what they started."

Day was a Republican, an ardent wilderness supporter and a man with a subtle eye for light and shadow. His iconic photograph of Castle Peak in the White Cloud Mountains helped stop a mining company from digging a huge molybdenum quarry at the core of the range now proposed for congressional wilderness designation.

Day's Castle Peak photograph ran in Idaho newspapers and eventually the cover of Life Magazine. The photographs influenced Cecil Andrus, who was running for governor against mine supporter and incumbent Republican Gov. Donald Samuelson.

"His photographs brought vividly to my mind and the public the damage that would be imposed on the area and the threat it posed to the Salmon River," Andrus told the Idaho Statesman in a Feb. 13 interview. "We lost a giant yesterday."

Andrus ultimately opposed the mine, and that central platform plank is credited as a leading reason that he upset Samuelson. The White Clouds were later protected as part of the 756,000-acre Sawtooth National Recreation Area in 1972.

Cannady doesn't mince words when it comes to speaking about the wild mountains that have been a formative force in his life. He, too, said the threat posed at Castle Peak was averted largely because of Day's photography.

"People got to see actually what that open-pit mine was going to do," he said.

At Day's memorial service, Boise attorney and longtime friend Jeff Fereday related the tale of how Day and Andrus became lifelong friends.

It was 1962, and Day was casting for steelhead on the banks of the Clearwater River in north Idaho. The middle-aged man lost his footing on the slippery riverbed rocks and fell. He was pulled from the river by the man who would become four-time Idaho governor and Interior secretary during the Carter administration.

Andrus and Day became close, and they'd often take journeys to Idaho's wild trout streams or to the elk-speckled mountains.

Fereday remembered that "Ernie was particularly tickled by Cece's retort, in one of their exchanges years later, in which the governor said: 'Ernie, I should have practiced catch and release that day on the Clearwater.'"

"So now Ernie is gone, as are most of his happy few. And what a remarkable bunch they were," Fereday said. "Here were a group of fishing and hunting buddies in the World War II generation, guys who loved to hike trails with their families. They saw situations that threatened their own private experiences--their ability to backpack into the high country and be confronted by solitude and unspoiled views, to wade streams 'clear as a gin,' to repeat a phrase I heard Ernie use.

"They went for the great fishing, the encounters with wildlife in wetlands and in desert canyons, hunting elk in the high country, chasing chukars and sage hen, photographing wild nature. Then, of course, their interests went far beyond just what might be good for them. At some point they began thinking bigger, perhaps thinking like a mountain, to use the words of Ernie's favorite writer, Aldo Leopold."

Pat Ford, executive director of Save Our Wild Salmon, has worked in Idaho conservation since 1977, and he, too, spoke at Day's memorial.

"When I think of Ernie Day I always first see him together with Ted and Bruce--Ted Trueblood and Bruce Bowler. Three friends who led the River of No Return Wilderness Council, meeting every month and then every two weeks in the basement office of the Idaho Conservation League from 1977 to 1980. That's when I came to know them and how I came to know them—as a group.

"But at that time, when I came to know them and when America's greatest wilderness achievement outside Alaska (the River of No Return Wilderness) was won, they were the leaders and they were my leaders. They are my heroes forever."

Ford said Day was a gruff man who had opinions he didn't keep to himself.

"Ernie's emotions when he cared about something were not hidden," Ford said. "I remember his laugh. I remember him angry and I remember him talking."

Ford said he remembers a morning waking in a sleeping bag on the front porch of Day's Fisher Creek cabin, which afforded panoramic views of the Sawtooths to the west. Day had set up a tripod the night before. He was awake at first light watching the Sawtooths greet the sun.

"He'd look, then he'd look through the viewfinder, then step away to his coffee, then come look again. He was waiting for the light. When it came only his finger moved. This was my first look at another side of Ernie: his quiet eye, his delicate eye for how light greets and reveals rock, water and sky. Once I had seen that quiet eye in practice, I could hear it in him when he spoke. I could see it in what he did."

Ford referred to a controversial bill now being ushered across Capitol Hill by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho. The Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act, which proposes to designate more than 300,000 acres of the Boulder and White Cloud mountains as wilderness as well as convey public land to private interests, contains things Day would have hated and some he would have loved.

"But if it becomes law, the good in it will be, in a dozen ways I don't have time to trace, another major conservation achievement drawn out of the life, work and inspiration of Ernie Day," Ford said. "I look forward to remembering him again then."

Day's influence in fact went straight to the heart of the modern-day wilderness movement. He is credited with helping influence Sen. Frank Church, D-Idaho, who was the 1964 Wilderness Act's Senate floor sponsor.

"Most fundamentally, Ernie revered wilderness," Fereday said. "He advocated for the passage of the Wilderness Act, an effort he supported in the 1950s in his association with the National Wildlife Federation and The Wilderness Society."

Day had told Fereday of his admiration for his friend Howard Zahniser, executive secretary of The Wilderness Society and author of principle parts of the act.

"It was Zahniser's lyrical phrases that were inserted into the 1964 Wilderness Act itself because there, in a rare moment, a few leaders in Congress—and certainly Frank Church—recognized the transcendent importance, and spiritual character, really, of what it was dealing with in the concept of wilderness. Using 'Zahny's' words, the statute says that its purpose is 'to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wildernes'"

Fereday went on.

"This piece of the United States Code then goes on to say this: 'A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.'

"Ernie once recited those words to me from memory, then, with his eyes misting, he looked straight at me and said, 'That's not just statutory language. That's pure poetry.'"

In so many ways, Day left an indelible mark on Idaho and on conservation in general, and still his Castle Peak photograph stands out.

"Ernie's famous photograph of Castle Peak must, I think, be the most influential visual image in Idaho's modern history, as far as impact on public perceptions, public opinion, law and the large, distant place the SNRA has come to occupy in our state and for we, her people," Ford said. "Thirty-five years after its creation it seems inevitable. It wasn't. Ernie is at the head of the list of those whose determination and work brought it to being."

In these ways Ernie Day's soul lives on, and the SNRA, Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness and the Wilderness Act itself are only mere parts of his lasting legacy.

Read the original version online at

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