Herm Hoops, a long time river runner and advocate for the Green and Yampa rivers near Dinosaur National Monument, once wrote, “A river trip in a boat is a magic carpet. It’s a ballet and you can feel in the oars what the river is saying.” Hoops no longer can use his oars to feel what the river is saying. Fellow paddlers are mourning his loss, as Hoops passed away from complications related to prostate cancer on Nov 23.
“Herm Hoops. Dedicated river runner, historian, advocate, and general pain in the ass passed away at his home in Jensen, Utah on Monday afternoon, November 23. …” wrote fellow river advocate Cody Perry on his website Rig to Flip. “I like to think that as he pushed off this last time, the Green River inexplicably swelled to flood stage. A final jesture to an old friend. Let the following be a humble tribute in grief and love, waving farewell to this unforgettable character in the toucan hat.”
Perry produced a movie on Hoops, The Salad Days, with support from such sponsors as NRS and American Whitewater, highlighting his life and last trip down his beloved Deso/Gray canyons of the Green River at age 72 in 2018 — his 123rd time down the canyon, this time with five oxygen tanks, a portable oxygen generator, and a support team, knowing it would be his last.
Growing up on a farm in Vermont, in 1965 Hoops saw people rafting through the Grand Canyon on TV and he knew he needed to raft it. He first saw Echo Park and ran through Dinosaur National Monument in 1971, igniting his passion for the watershed.
He eventually settled down in Jensen, Utah, working in Dinosaur National Monument. The desert chose him, he said, not the other way around.
His work in Dinosaur National Monument included conservation work, interpretation, youth programming, informational signage, poetic musings, storytelling and more. He also had a troublemaking side, once running Gates of Lodore without a permit, leaving a bottle of Yukon Jack on the Ranger’s front porch. He also helped collate the history of rubber boating in collaboration with the University of Utah Special Collections Department.“Herm stands as an example of how to effectively and passionately transmute love of a place into active advocacy for it,”said Perry. “Once your running rivers out West, it doesn’t take long before you hear the name Herm Hoops.”
In 2019 Hoops was inducted into the John Wesley Powell River Runner History Museum Hall of Fame. He was also honored by the River Management Society (RMS) with the Outstanding Contribution to River Management Award.
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