A Tribute to Scott Peden

Scott Peden and volunteer

Scott Peden: Naturalist, Docent, Photographer, Historian, Passionate Storyteller, Friend

Sempervirens Fund and the entire Santa Cruz Mountains community lost a dear friend on December 5th with the passing of Scott Peden. Scott was a remarkable, one-of-a-kind soul who developed an encyclopedic knowledge of regional history and the natural world. He was an accomplished nature photographer and respected historian. He knew every detail about native plants and pollinators. He was curious, versatile, generous, humorous, gentle, thoughtful and totally devoted to sharing his passion for the Santa Cruz Mountains with anyone who had interest. As a volunteer docent for more than 25 years, Scott made lasting contributions at Big Basin Redwoods State Park, with the Portola and Castle Rock Foundation and Waddell Creek Association, where he led some of the most popular nature walks. A walk with Scott was anything but routine… he shared his significant knowledge using a storytelling magic and the sensitivity of a photographer, always encouraging visitors to look deeper. If you took part in one of Scott’s walks, you came away with far more information and appreciation than you expected – and you were likely to sign up for his next sojourn!

Scott was a special friend to Sempervirens Fund. He served as our volunteer historian, which is no small feat given our 116-year history! He recently helped us set up a historic photo archiving project and always was on the lookout for important photos available through auction or private sale. Scott led many hikes for us over the years and at the time of his passing, was working with us to create several new outings for 2017. He was a dedicated and dependable representative at many events including grove dedications and Sempervirens Fund events, and made a wonderful contribution to the recent Wender Group Dedication. Scott’s absence will be sorely felt by all of us in the Sempervirens Fund community.

Celebrating the Life of Scott Peden

On Saturday, February 4th nearly 100 guests gathered at the Old Lodge to celebrate the life of Scott Peden in Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

Within the Old Lodge, a memorial table was set up with some of Scott’s mementos. These included: native flowers, his hats with his new 10,000 hours of service pin, his Poppy Award, book Life on a Redwood Post, and the stake to be placed at his tree. Memory books, articles, and photos relevant to Scott were shared around the room.

A slideshow honoring Scott’s many years of service and passion to documenting and protecting the Santa Cruz mountains played onscreen as a few people spoke about Scott and his generous spirit. Jim Cockrell honored Scott by writing a song, “The Miracles in Our World (Mr. Redwood Man),” and everyone was invited to sing along. The music was a touching tribute.

Scott's California Poppy Award, hats with volunteer pins, and dedication plaque

Scott’s hats, volunteer pins, California Poppy Award and dedication plaque.

At 3:00 pm, the guests were led to an old growth redwood tree by piper Elise MacGregor Ferrell. This tree is located in the Tree of Honor Redwood Grove and overlooks the Old Lodge where the docents meet. Scott often spoke about this place and tree being one of his favorites. Funds for the tree was dedicated by Sempervirens Fund along with contributions from many friends and family. Scott’s gaze will never leave this special place.

Extra thanks to all the volunteers that made this event, music, video, photography and slideshow happen. Scott would have liked knowing his celebration was all about the volunteers. The event was cosponsored by California State Parks and Sempervirens Fund. Photo and video credit to Mike Kahn.

Celebrating the life of Scott Peden on February 4th, 2017, at the Old Lodge in Big Basin Redwoods State Park.



Scott Peden memories and photography. Song is “Miracles in Our World (Mr. Redwood Man)” by Jim Cockrell.


A Permanent Tribute

There was only one Scott Peden. To honor this man who meant so much to so many, Sempervirens Fund has chosen to dedicate a mature redwood tree in Scott’s memory at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The tree will stand as a permanent reminder of Scott’s contributions to the redwoods and all the people and creatures who appreciate them. We welcome your participation in the tribute. Your gift will be applied toward the Scott Peden Memorial Tree at Big Basin and will support the ongoing conservation and stewardship work of Sempervirens Fund.

To make your contribution toward the Scott Peden Memorial Tree, click here.


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