Leslie J. Mehrhoff
by Bill Brumback, Conservation Director
The conservation world lost a dear friend and mentor when Leslie J. Mehrhoff, 60, passed away suddenly just before Christmas at his home in Willington, Connecticut. Les was one of the region’s best naturalists, maintaining an interest and expertise in almost everything natural.
Before retiring in July of 2009, Les worked for the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut as the curator of the George Safford Torrey Herbarium. As a longtime supporter and collaborator of New England Wild Flower Society, Les was instrumental in the development of the New England Plant Conservation Program (NEPCoP) and co-authored the regional list of plants in need of conservation, “Flora Conservanda: New England.”
In 1993, the Society presented him with the Connecticut State Award for his work protecting Connecticut’s rare plant species. Les was also instrumental in conceiving the idea for the Invasive Plant Atlas of New England (IPANE), and was its Director from the start. On this project, the Society worked closely with Les to train hundreds of volunteers to survey and map the invasive plants of the region.
His contributions to students and science were many, but he will be missed most of all for his infectious humor and his good nature. Les may have been inspired by the work of his heroes, botanists such as Merritt Fernald and Asa Gray, but it was his own enthusiasm that inspired so many others in the region.
Note: NPR's Nancy Eve Cohen interviewed Les Mehrhoff on May 11, 2010. To read or listen to the interview, visit http://www.yourpublicmedia.org/content/wnpr/postcards-earth.