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Page 42 ï~~ 42 THE MICHIGAN BOTANIST Vol. 50 ED VOSS AND THE CONSERVATION OF MICHIGAN'S RARE FLORA Michael R. Penskar Michigan Natural Features Inventory Michigan State University Extension Stevens T. Mason Building, PO Box 30444 Lansing, MI 48909-7944 Of Ed Voss's many contributions and accomplishments as a botanist, professor, and much lauded teacher, as amply recounted and celebrated in this volume, his role as an indefatigable leader in plant conservation is one that should not be forgotten. His dedicated work in protecting and conserving the rare flora of Michigan and the Great Lakes region is an important legacy that will endure, his selfless devotion in this regard serving as a model to all (see Fig. 25). Ed Voss contributed to, and fostered, rare plant conservation throughout his career in numerous ways, as will be described below. Moreover, he initiated his efforts well before the existence, or significant expansion, of many national, state, and local conservation organizations now known to lead in such pursuits. Voss's work commenced prior to the advent of Earth Day in 1970 and the subsequent use and proliferation of such well-known terms or concepts as "biodiversity", "biophilia" (Wilson 1984), or more topically-"sustainability." His involvement in conservation also began long before formal studies in the emerging fields of conservation biology and ecosystem management helped to articulate the scientific rationale for conserving rare biota. It is therefore fitting and highly appropriate to honor Ed Voss's important work in rare plant and natural areas conservation by providing a brief overview and description of his particular contributions in these areas. As to how he may have regarded his purposeful work in this arena, it is easy to surmise, to those who knew him well, that he considered his involvement in conservation efforts to be much less an obligation than a natural and logical extension of his scientific endeavors. Thus, this work was pursued with the same vigor and thoroughness as applied to the Michigan Flora. One of Voss's most important roles in rare plant conservation was his long-time service as a member of the Technical Advisory Committee for Plants, as appointed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) Threatened and Endangered Species Program. Initiated in 1974 following passage of the Michigan Endangered Species Act (Public Act 203 of 19741), the Technical Advisory Committee engaged Voss and his colleagues with the important task of drawing up Michigan's first Technical List of state endangered, threatened, and extirpated vascular plant species (encompassing pteridophytes, gymnosperms, and flowering plant taxa). Preparation of a state rare plant list was a ground-breaking task, yet the newly passed Michigan act provided 1Now re-codified as Part 365, Endangered Species Protection, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994 (Michigan Compiled Laws 1994).
Page 43 ï~~ 2012 THE MICHIGAN BOTANIST 43 little specific guidance about how to do so. The act did note that in addition to the Department's own investigations and status determinations, it was given the charge to seek "other available scientific and commercial data, which may include consultation with scientists and others who may have specialized knowledge, learning, or experience" to help promulgate a rule for the listing of such species. In the absence of specific procedures and protocols, considerable credit is to be given to Dr. Sylvia M. Taylor, Michigan's first State Endangered Species Coordinator (lodged within the MDNR Wildlife Division), for realizing the need to establish both a procedural precedent as well as a methodology that would result in developing a credible, objective, and scientifically defensible Technical List capable of passing the periodic scrutiny of the Michigan Legislature. Enlisting the assistance of Dr. Warren H. Wagner, Jr. to serve as its first Chair, the initial Technical Advisory Committee for Plants was formed, of which Ed Voss was a critically important member. Voss monitored the University of Michigan herbarium (MICH) records for the committee, and also played the primary role in evaluating the status of aquatic flowering plants, in addition to providing guidance via his prodigious knowledge of the Michigan flora. His painstaking work to document the distribution of rare species and other potential candidate taxa was only a portion of his efforts, as he also carefully monitored the procedures and decisions of the committee as well (S. Taylor, pers. comm.). I can vouch for this after having had the distinct honor of serving with him for the last three of the six list reviews conducted by this committee. Voss's voice of reason, his airtight logic, and his unimpeachable recommendations contributed enormously to a review system that stands with high credibility to this day. It is also a testament to the breadth and depth of his floristic knowledge that Ed Voss was also sought out to serve on the state Rare Plant Advisory Committee for Ohio Department of Natural Resources, on which he participated from 1992 until 2012. In addition to his work on rare plant committees, Ed Voss contributed to plant conservation through several other miscellaneous positions and activities. Notable contributions included the Citizens Advisory Committee for the Cyrus H. McCormick Experimental Forest, U.S. Forest Service (1969), the Science Advisory Committee of the Michigan Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (1992-2002), and the Board of Technical Advisors, Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council (1993-2012). Voss was an esteemed and long-time trustee for the Little Traverse Conservancy (1983-2012), also serving on their Stewardship Committee and providing assistance by conducting a number of special botanical surveys (T. Bailey, pers. comm.). Voss was also a highly dedicated and respected trustee for the Michigan Chapter of The Nature Conservancy for two six-year terms of service (1986-1992 and 1993-1999). In the last known version of his curriculum vitae (2002), Ed noted that he was a member of "25 or more local, regional, or national conservation and natural history organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, Michigan Nature Association, Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, National Audubon Society, Environmental Defense Fund, Little Traverse Conservancy, Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, Michigan Natural Areas Council, Federation of Ontario Naturalists, Upper Peninsula Environmental coalition, etc. etc.". These many activities demonstrate his lifelong commitment to plant and natural area conservation, conducted during a vigorous professional career and a well occupied "retirement" that
Page 44 ï~~ 44 THE MICHIGAN BOTANIST Vol. 51 including ongoing Michigan Flora work and brief teaching stints at the University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) in Pellston. Amidst these endeavors, however, Voss somehow managed to find time to contribute yet more through various kinds of outreach and education, such as delivering lectures to a wide diversity of groups and organizations, leading numerous field trips (such as to his beloved Grass Bay for The Nature Conservancy), and answering unending (and countless) questions about plants (especially with regard to identifications), the inquiries arriving in all the standard ways, via phone, U.S. mail, personal visits, and the subsequent onslaught of e-mail (though he reserved a particular aversion to e-mail attachments). Ed Voss understood the need to identify and protect natural areas as an essential underpinning for the conservation of plants and all other organisms, as underscored by the large number of organizations he served and supported. It is notable that more than three decades ago he took a keen interest, while a member of the editorial board of The Michigan Botanist, in the publication of an extended special issue devoted entirely to an overview of all known, dedicated nature preserves in Michigan (Crispin 1980). Susan Crispin, a botany graduate student advised by Dr. John Beaman of Michigan State University (Beal-Darlington Herbarium, MSC), prepared a master's thesis devoted to such an overview, resulting in an unprecedented compilation and description of the natural areas of the state. Although he knew such a compilation would be highly dynamic through time, Voss felt it was essential to present this work, both as a touchstone for accomplishment as well as a measure of the considerable efforts that remain for us all. It was, in its day, a kind of gap analysis and report card. Crispin (1980) acknowledges Voss's "enormous assistance in editing and arranging publication," and once remarked to me that she was deeply impressed by the level of his enthusiasm for this paper and his passion and sense of urgency for bringing it to the readership of the journal and the conservation community. As eloquently summarized by Tom Bailey, the Director of the Little Traverse Conservancy, Ed Voss "was an amazing botanist, a dedicated conservationist, and a wonderful friend. When he disagreed about something, he was the embodiment of the Loyal Opposition, and always worked hard in service to the conservation cause." With the passing of Ed Voss, plant conservation has lost one of its staunchest champions, one who left the richest and most admirable of legacies and quietly taught us by his example and deed. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I am indebted to Sylvia Taylor for providing critical background information about the early work and organization of the state Technical Advisory Committee for Plants, and to Tom Bailey and Doug Pearsall for kindly verifying terms of service. I would also like to thank Tony Reznicek and Rich Rabeler for guidance and support. LITERATURE CITED Crispin, S. R. 1980. Nature preserves in Michigan, 1920-1979. Michigan Bot. 19: 99-242. Michigan Compiled Laws. 1994. Public Act 451 of 1994. Natural Resources and Environmental Pro tection Act, Part 365, Endangered Species Protection, Sections 324.36501-324.36507. Wilson, E. O. 1984. Biophilia, the human bond with other species. Harvard University Press, Boston.