Jon Kusler
Executive Director, Association of State Wetland Managers
Berne, New York

Jon Kusler, founder and executive director of the Association of State Wetland Managers (ASWM), is the first recipient of the National Wetlands Awards Lifetime Achievement Award for singular dedication and excellence in wetlands protection. Although Kusler has been committed to the enhancement and protection of water resources for more than 20 years, I suspect that he has just begun his efforts.Kusler started his life and received his academic training in Wisconsin, the land of waters. In addition to a law degree, he has a master’s degree in water resources management and an interdisciplinary doctorate in water and land-use planning. As a student and later as a member of the University of Wisconsin staff, Kusler was instrumental in formulating Wisconsin’s floodplain, shoreland, and wetland management programs. Since those early days, he has assisted agencies of many states, including Alaska, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota in formulating and improving their wetland and flood-plain programs. Kusler has also served on the staffs of the University of Massachusetts and Harvard University. He spent four years in Washington, DC, as an Institute Fellow at the Environmental Law Institute while living, somewhat uncharacteristically for a Fellow, on a houseboat. In addition, Kusler has served as a consultant to the U.S. Water Resources Council, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, among others. Most recently, he was an adviser to the intergovernmental National Wetlands Policy Forum, which recommended, among other things, a no net loss goal.Kusler is a prolific creator and gatherer of ideas and knowledge. He has shared this knowledge with many of us in the wetlands protection field through his writing and his organizing of people and seminars. The last time I saw a list of Kusler’s publications, it went on for over three single spaced pages. Some of his most well-known publications include Strengthening State Wetland Regulations, Emerging Issues in Wetland and Floodplain Management, Regulating Floodplains, Our National Wetland Heritage: A Protection Guidebook, Wetland Creation and Restoration: The Status of the Science, and all the proceedings of the ASWM’s national symposia, especially, Strengthening the Role of the States.Kusler’s enthusiasm and concern for water resources have put him in contact with literally thousands of people world-wide. He has maintained this network through informal meetings; through organizing and participating in numerous seminars, workshops, and training sessions; and by helping to found two national organizations: Kusler was instrumental in the formative days of the Association of State Floodplain Managers, and went on to found the ASWM which he now serves as the overworked executive director. Even before founding the ASWM, Kusler was well known for his organization of national and regional workshops and symposia. These sessions have gained a reputation of not only being extremely timely and focused on important wetlands issues, but also for being extremely productive in terms of the quality and quantity of information presented. Kusler is currently in the process of organizing at least two workshops and a national symposium for the ASWM in 1991.Kusler is also very active internationally. He organized the 1989 International Symposium on Wetlands and River Corridor Management, the 1989 Workshop on Ecotourism and the Yucatan and Maya Region, and the recent symposium on Ecotourism and the Conservation of Wetlands, Parks, and Other Natural Areas. Kusler is continuing this interest by leading the ASWM’s effort in writing a wetland interpretation and ecotourism guidebook. As always, Kusler is in the forefront of promoting national leadership in the careful and wise management of this nation’s wetlands. His current work involves the preparation and presentation of responses, discussion papers, and recommendation papers on the proposed revisions to the 1989 Federal Manual for Identifying and Delineating Jurisdictional Wetlands, on Federal Water Pollution Control Act FWPCA) reauthorization, on FWPCA §404 implementation, and on numerous other federal wetland legislative issues and Initiatives.Finally, Kusler organizes great field trips. The very first ASWM field trip is especially memorable as, among many other things, the start of Jon’s romance and eventual marriage to Pat Riexinger--one of this year’s award winners in the state government category.— Scott Hausmann, Water Regulation Section, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources