Karl A. Urban (1943-1999)


Karl A. Urban passed away on January 15, 1999. A strong proponent of native plants, his presence in the botanical community will be greatly missed.

Karl was born June 6, 1943, in Kimberly, Idaho where he grew up and attended high school. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in botany from the University of Idaho. He moved to Pendleton, Oregon, in 1968 and accepted a position as instructor of Botany at Blue Mountain Community College where he taught for 23 years.

His spring wildflower identification classes became an anticipated event by many Pendleton residents. Each summer for many years, he also taught an intensive two-week vascular plant identification course on Steens Mountain. He was instrumental in obtaining a National Science Foundation grant for a solar-heated greenhouse for the college.

In 1991, he became the botanist for the Umatilla National Forest. Karl completed a natural vegetation map and associated database for the forest. He cared a great deal about the forest resources and environment and had "botanized" virtually the whole of the Umatilla National Forest.

In his free time over the years, Karl drew many of the wildflowers of the area and put them on coloring pages so children could learn of their natural heritage. He put the drawings into the public domain so anyone could use them and learn to share his appreciation and love of wildflowers. These beautiful wildflower drawings and associated coloring guides have been viewed and enjoyed by over 60,000 visitors on the Plant Conservation Alliance's website. Countless other children have delighted in and learned from the drawings through other publications such as North Cascade Institute's Celebrating Wildflowers Teacher's Guide.

Just recently at the 64th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in March 1999, the USDA Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management posthumously awarded Karl a joint Celebrating Wildflowers Award for his outstanding contribution of wildflower drawings and other materials. At the same meeting, Tom Fry (Acting Director, Bureau of Land Management) and Michael Dombeck (Director, USDA Forest Service) announced plans for a new interagency Karl A. Urban Celebrating Wildflowers Award.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Karl Urban Scholarship Fund at Blue Mountain Community College, Attn: Karen Hill/BMCC Foundation, 2411 NW Carden Ave., Pendleton, OR 97801.


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