Bill Gabriel began studying birds as a Boy Scout and went on to win a Virginia Academy of Science scholarship with his birds in 1952. That got him into Virginia Tech and a BS in forest & wildlife conservation. Scouting also introduced him to the west, at Philmont Scout Ranch in NM, when he was 17. Eager to see more, each summer during college Bill worked on national forests in California and Idaho.
A dozen years in the woods as a forester with the USFS in the Great Basin and Rocky Mountains, where he became an expert in mapping, describing, and inventorying forest stands, led to a year in Ecuador with UN-FAO to inventory & map a rainforest wilderness twice the size of Yellowstone NP. There he dealt with dugout canoes, mildew, and some 500 tree species (mostly until then unidentified).
Seeking a change of profession, Bill enrolled in a wildlife PhD program at U of Montana that put him in a tent in the Bob Marshall Wilderness for three summers in search of evidence of forest fire history and its effects on big game habitat. It was a time of change, an environmental conscience was developing in the country, and new fields of interest and employment were opening. Oil was discovered in Alaska in 1968, The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was passed in 1969, and in 1971 Bill took his new education north to Alaska to participate in decisions to be made about land and resource use on the last frontier.
Bill helped found the Anchorage Audubon Society, served on its board, and led field trips to Middleton Is., St. Paul Is. and less exotic places. After “retiring” in 1985, he began a new career as a photographer & writer, working through two NY agencies. His work appeared in Audubon, Discover, Natural History, Orion, Ranger Rick, Time, U.S. News, and several dozen other magazines and textbooks.
Bill joined FVAS in 1986, served two terms as chapter vice-president, and since 2004 has been chair of the Philip L. Wright Endowment.