Remembering Scott Peden

Like a gentle modern mountain man, the naturalist and longtime docent delighted many with his knowledge of plants, flowers and insects and his enthusiasm for Waddell Creek and Big Basin.

by Jeremy Lin

Dec. 15, 2016—It is with great sorrow that we note the passing of Scott Peden. Scott's passing is a tragedy for everyone who knew him. His passion and encyclopedic knowledge of natural history, photography and many other disciplines made him a unique hero, a driving force in the local environmental movement.

I recall many hours spent with Scott, hiking at Rancho del Oso and drinking coffee as we dissected his millions of photographs looking for patterns or identifying flowers and insects.

Last month, Scott shared the following quote with me:

In our world of big names, curiously, our true heroes tend to be anonymous. In this life of illusion and quasi-illusion, the person of solid virtues who can be admired for something more substantial than his well-knownness often proves to be the unsung hero: the teacher, the nurse, the mother, the honest cop, the hard worker at lonely, underpaid, unglamorous, unpublicized jobs.
—Daniel J Boorstin, historian, professor, attorney, and writer (1914-2004)

Scott was a true hero; however, he shall not remain anonymous.

Jeremy Lin is Program Coordinator at the Rancho del Oso unit of Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Editor's Note: Not long after starting Hilltromper in March 2013, we reached out to Scott Peden wondering if he could tell us what kinds of flowers might be blooming on his next wildflower walk at Waddell Creek. We knew nothing about him, only that he was a docent. Well! By way of response, Scott dashed off this incredibly detailed catalog of winter blooming plants at Rancho del Oso, and we were Scott Peden fans from that moment forward. He often encouraged us, telling us Hilltromper provided a valuable service and nudging us to keep going when we faltered.

Scott had many fans, among them Sempervirens Fund, the organization that saved the ancient redwood grove at Scott's beloved Big Basin a century ago, and which is dedicating a mature redwood tree to Scott's memory; you can learn more, contribute, and make plans to attend a Sempervirens Fund dedication ceremony to Scott Peden at Big Basin in 2017.