In Memory of Edward G. Voss

By Alex Paris

Dr. Edward G. Voss, roaming botanist, inspiring professor, and long-time MNA member, died in his Ann Arbor home on February 12. He dedicated his life to the comprehensive identification and categorization of vascular plants, which is embodied by his award-winning, three-volume Michigan Flora guide. The size and clout of the series illustrates the dedication and passion Ed applied to all facets of his life: from the field to the classroom.

Photo: University of Michigan Herbarium

Though born and raised in Ohio, Ed cultivated his botanical interests while in Michigan. Vacationing as a child in Mackinac City, he was fascinated with the surrounding wildlife and began collecting it. Ed went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in biology from Denison University before uprooting to the University of Michigan, where he earned a master’s degree in biology and doctorate in botany before becoming a research assistant.

The University of Michigan would go on to serve as the trellis on which the vines of botany and teaching would root and intertwine for Ed.  He began teaching field botany at Douglas Lake even before becoming a professor, and persisted until retiring in 1996. “He made the boreal floor come alive,” says former student and MNA trustee Stan Kuchta. He was a stickler for spelling, says Stan, and fittingly served as chairman and editor of national and international plant naming committees, respectively.

By retirement (during which he continued practicing botany and teaching) Ed had racked up countless accomplishments and was known as a trusted authority in the global botanist community. Ed made one last contribution to the study of nature as co-author of the Field Manual of Michigan Flora, which was published three days after his death.

There will be two services to honor Dr. Ed Voss on March 10 in Ann Arbor: a memorial service will be held at First Baptist Church of Ann Arbor (517 East Washington St.) from 12:30-1:30 p.m., and a celebration of Ed’s life and career will be held at the University of Michigan Union, Pendleton Room, (530 South State St.) from 2-4 p.m.

Ed’s new, condensed field manual and all volumes of the Michigan Flora work can be purchased from online retailers. Michigan Flora has also taken the form of a website that is continuously updated.

In Loving Memory of Sharon Zahrfeld

By Tina Patterson

After his wife Sharon passed away, long-time member and volunteer Ted Zahrfeld approached MNA about renaming a sanctuary in her honor. In January, the Save-It-Creek Nature Sanctuary was officially renamed the Sharon Zahrfeld Memorial Nature Sanctuary. Located in Linden near the Zahrfeld home, this 35.5 acre sanctuary is a tribute to his wife of 49 years.

Ted Zahrfeld pointing to Sharon's sanctuary. Photo: Tina Patterson

A woman of many talents, Sharon was an accomplished fisher woman, liturgical environmental artist, and a fiber artist who once owned her own art gallery. Raised in east Detroit, she was working in a library where Ted first met her. During their 49 years of marriage, they raised one son and enjoyed living near their four grandsons.

Sharon inspired others as she was inspired by her father to appreciate the natural world. In addition to being a volunteer for MNA, she was a member of the Hartland Audubon Society and the Organization for Bat Conservation at the Cranbrook Institute of Science. One of her favorite activities was going to the U.P. to view bats coming out of old mine caverns at Iron Mountain.

Sharon was a woman who could call the chickadees and they would sing back to her. As Ted says, “she taught us to be caregivers of all creatures great and small.”  Greatly missed by her family, church community, and all who had the pleasure of knowing her, we thank Ted for his generous donation to MNA and the living tribute to a vibrant and beautiful woman.

In honor of Sharon, a rededication ceremony is set to take place on May 5. MNA also has a volunteer day coming up in the sanctuary on Friday, March 2 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Participants will be removing autumn olive and other invasive species. Please visit MNA’s website for more information.

MNA Partners with Jeffers High School

By Allie Jarrell

Nine years ago, students from Jeffers High School began working with MNA to restore and maintain the Robert T. Brown Nature Sanctuary. What began as an ideal spot for field trips has since evolved into numerous community service projects and hands-on learning opportunities for students.

For decades, MTU biology and forestry professors have been using the site, originally called the Lake Perrault Bog, as an opportunity for students to learn about Michigan flora and fauna outside of the classroom. A professor named Robert T. Brown was especially fond of the area and often took his students there. MNA purchased the bog in 2002, and after Robert’s passing in August of that same year, it was renamed the Robert T. Brown Nature Sanctuary. In 2003, MNA arranged a partnership with Jeffers High School so that students could continue to learn in a unique, outdoor classroom.

Photo: MNA

During their time in the sanctuary, the young volunteers constructed two boardwalks with viewing platforms, which continue to protect rare flora, such as orchids and some carnivorous plants, from being trampled. Visitors can now enjoy a worry-free stroll from the coniferous forests into the bog area of the sanctuary.  In order to carry on with their efforts, Jeffers High School has proposed a grant to receive additional funding so that the sanctuary can be incorporated into the school’s curriculum. This would enable students to continue learning about the needs of the local community while also taking ownership in protecting their home in the Lake Superior watershed.

The MNA partnership with Jeffers High School was recently renewed in order to benefit the students’ learning opportunities as well as the maintenance of the sanctuary. The Jeffers students’ efforts have been appreciated and recognized by MNA and the Michigan DNR for “creating and maintaining these important recreational areas” and “making Lake Perrault a true recreational destination for everyone.”

Forest Service Proposal to Change Wildlife Protection in National Forests

By Mitch Lex

The U.S. Forest Service released a proposal last month that will change the protection of wildlife and habitats against logging, mining and livestock grazing throughout 193 million acres of National Forest. Released as part of the final environmental impact statement for the rule, this is the fourth time since 2000 that the Forest Service has attempted such a proposal. The three previous proposals were all found to be unlawful.

Huron National Forest, Photo: Pure Michigan

Enacted in 1976, The National Forest Management Act created by Congress was designed to guide the management of the national forest system. National regulations were adopted by the Forest Service in 1982 to monitor actions such as logging, mining, livestock grazing and certain types of recreation. The rule included mandatory protection of fish and wildlife habitats and required the Forest Service to maintain populations. The plan would require that the Forest Service only maintain viable populations for species of “conservation concern.”

While this proposal may not directly affect MNA properties, it does impact the national forests that form a network with our sanctuaries.  For 60 years, MNA has been protecting endangered and threatened species, and every endangered plant species in Michigan can be found in our sanctuaries. This protection is made possible by working together with national forests such as Huron and Hiawatha to ensure that rare and endangered plants and animals can continue to live in safe habitats.

Check out the Forest Service website and this national forest interactive map for more information.