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UConn botanist Mehrhoff to be honored posthumously by EPA

May 11, 2011 Local News No Comments
The late Dr. Leslie Mehrhoff will be recognized for his extensive contributions to preserving the enviroment at the 2011 EPA Merit Awards on May 11, 2011. Courtesy photo

The late Dr. Leslie Mehrhoff will be recognized for his extensive contributions to preserving the environment at the 2011 EPA Merit Awards on May 11, 2011. Courtesy photo

Dr. Leslie J. Mehrhoff, a well respected conservationist and well-loved local resident will be honored posthumously on May 11 at ceremonies in Boston as the Environmental Protection Agency presents its 2011 Environmental Merit Awards.

The merit awards recognize valuable contributions to environmental awareness and problem solving by individuals and groups that have a significant impact on environmental quality in distinct ways.

The late Dr. Mehrhoff of Willington, CT was an outstanding botanist well known in Connecticut, New England and the nation, according to the CT Regional EPA announcement.

Dr. Mehrhoff retired from UConn in 2009 and passed away just before Christmas in 2010 at the age of 60.

Dr. Mehrhoff “had a spirited sense of humor, and his sense of wonder about the natural world gave him a childlike innocence,” the announcement states.

He was an “accomplished and enthusiastic naturalist” who received his graduate training at the University of Connecticut and then worked for many years with the CT Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) before becoming the manager of the Torrey Herbarium at the University of Connecticut in Storrs-Mansfield.

“During his career, Les inspired, encouraged, mentored and educated many people, influencing botanists, biologists, legislators, students and gardeners young and old,” the announcement states.

“His innumerable presentations on biodiversity and the importance of protecting species and their natural communities included his renowned high-quality photographs.”

“He worked tirelessly to protect endangered species and to prevent the negative impacts from invasive species.

“Les’ life work made incalculable contributions to the protection of biodiversity and ecosystems throughout Connecticut and New England.”

He was instrumental in gaining passage of Connecticut’s Endangered Species statutes, in  publishing The Connecticut Butterfly Atlas, and in development of The Atlas of Breeding Birds of Connecticut, and The Atlas of Ground Beetles of Connecticut.

Awarded by EPA since 1970, the merit awards honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts to preserve the region’s environment.

This year’s competition drew 56 nominations from across New England.

Awards are given in several categories including – individuals; business (including professional organizations); local, state or federal government; and environmental, community, academia or nonprofit organization.

Each year, EPA also may present lifetime achievement awards for individuals.

More information on all Environmental Merit Award Winners from this year and past years is available at: http://www.epa.gov/region1/ra/ema/index.html

Posted May 10, 2011

Related Link: A tribute to Dr. Mehrhoff in New England Wild which also includes a link to an NPR interview from 2010 http://www.newenglandwild.org/protect/rare-plants-and-conservation/leslie-j-mehrhoff.html

Another tribute and his obituary and a call for contributions of memories and photos to be compiled in a book, at http://www.invasiveplantcontrol.com/les/

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