Tim Hogan, Eco-Activist and Botanist
Tim Hogan of Boulder, Colorado, died at home, December 6, 2023. Born in 1955, raised in Buffalo, New York, Tim headed West because of his love for wild lands, ecology, and the outdoors. The more wild a region, the more the land with its plants and animals, rock formations and weather patterns, drew him. After moving to Boulder in 1977 he met Eleni Arapkiles in 1982 and the two married.
Tim studied botany at the University of Colorado, moving directly into a position at the University Museum’s Herbarium, where he worked for his adult life. A mainstay of the Herbarium, Tim never wanted full time work; he needed off-the-clock time to hike, camp, climb, and botanize around Colorado. Often he’d explore alone, at other times with his wife or with friends who were naturalists, adventurers, and literary sorts. His home grounds were Colorado’s Front Range, the Sangre de Cristos, and the San Juans, places he made lengthy excursions every year. Among many publications, Tim’s most in-depth was “A Floristic Survey of the Boulder Mountain Park,” published in 1993 as a volume of the Museum’s Natural History Inventory of Colorado. It was the kind of inquiry that would have made his tutelary spirit, Henry David Thoreau, sit up and loudly clap. In it Tim embedded 639 species of vascular plants in their eco-zones, as well as dozens of lichens and mosses.
Like any committed botanist, Tim paid exacting attention to species threatened by human development. He knew that plant communities thrive only when their landscapes remain intact. He fought without quarter for the conservation of wild lands across the American West. He joined planning committees, he carried out tedious lobbying vigils, and he contributed sage counsel and a range of botanical detail to the Southern Rockies Wildlands Network Vision of 2003, a project focused on “rewilding” the Rockies.
Tim read with a hunter’s focus, especially the poets of wilderness and the warriors of conservation. His special affections were Thoreau, the voices of Native America, and poet Gary Snyder. This study of poems, novels, and well-crafted essays shows forth in the public writings he undertook: book reviews, letters to the editors of newspapers and ecological journals, and the open letters he would send, some of them blistering, to public officials. When the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge became a contentious site, Tim took a number of trips to observe firsthand the caribou herds, wolf packs, and grizzly bear. He hired a bush pilot to land him and his gear on a gravel creek bed, and return for him three or four weeks later.
A counterpoint to his activism, Tim was steeped in Zen Buddhism. He studied for years with Richard Baker Roshi at Crestone Zen Center, at the foot of the Sangre de Cristos. Each December he would attend Rohatsu Sesshin, the intensive, highly demanding, “great cold” meditation retreat.
Zen good humor, a crackling wit, and a scorching fury at the loss of wild nature, coupled with a kind, gentleness that was with him until his last breath, attended Tim. He is survived by his wife Leni, a brother and sister; several nieces and nephews; and by many friends: the West’s naturalists, poets, mountaineers, and wildlife.
A gathering to honor Tim will be held on January 11, 2024, at 11:00 am on the 4th Floor of CU’s Center for Academic Success and Engagement (CASE) building at the University of Colorado Boulder,1725 Euclid Ave, Boulder, CO 80309 (directly above the Euclid Auto Park). Reception to follow.
Donations can be made in his name to The Alaska Wilderness League and The Center for Biological Diversity.