Jeanne Christie, Executive Director

Dear Reader,

Wetland professionals already know that, ‘If you want a comfortable job, don’t work in wetlands’ or stated otherwise, this way there be dragons.  However,  if you thrive on constant challenge, high learning curves, new discoveries  and tortuous public policy, then a profession in the field of wetlands is where you belong.  You are a Wetlandkeeper.

While some folks might wonder what the attraction is, those of us who work in wetlands know it’s because this area of public policy is so important and so difficult.  Often there is no easy way to balance individual and public interests in water resources.  At the same time there is nothing more vital. Healthy wetlands are of enormous importance to our overall social and economic well-being.  They ensure clean drinking water, abundant wildlife, protection from floods and hurricanes and economic security for millions of Americans.  But when times are hard there are always efforts to weaken programs that protect wetlands and other natural resources.  That is certainly true now.

After years of steady progress reducing the loss of wetlands and developing scientifically sound ways to restore and manage these resources, wetlands are under attack.  Economic uncertainty has led to the introduction of legislation at the federal and state level that will weaken existing  wetland protection and reduce funding for voluntary programs.  The choices in front of Congress and state legislatures will have consequences for both current and future generations.  They merit our attention and balanced public debate.

This is why the Association’s mission has always been to advocate for using sound science to develop and inform public policy around wetlands.  It can be an important tool in finding an appropriate balance.  Also essential is making information about wetlands readily available to everyone and keeping people informed about what’s happening nearby and around the country.

To be honest, a lot of the work we do sounds dull:  writing reports, developing web pages, hosting webinars and organizing coalitions to share information.  But don’t be deceived.  It’s all for the people who depend on our services.  These are the tools they need to understand the issues and negotiate a balanced approach.  We’re proud to do the work we do because we are inspired by the people we serve: the Wetlandkeepers.

Thank you,

Jeanne Christie


Jon KuslerDear Friends:

Almost thirty years have passed since Scott Hausmann and I founded the Association of State Wetland Managers (ASWM). Scott and I founded ASWM with two goals—to support state wetland programs and to support national wetland policy reflecting sound wetland science. We and ASWM have tried to stay true to these goals during the ups and downs of funding and politics.

There is a story about the Sufi teacher, Mulla Nazrudin. One day a student finds him in the market on his knees searching. “What are you looking for Mulla?” “My keys.” The student joins Mulla but with no success. “Where did you leave your keys, Mulla?” “In my room.” “Then why are we searching in the market?” “Because there is more light.”

We began our fledgling Association with no staff or budget. Our first National meeting in 1983 was hosted by Richard Haman and the University of Florida College of Law. To our delight over one hundred twenty wetland managers and scientists attended. The quality and enthusiasm of the attendees was striking. Most did not know each other prior to the meeting but many emerged friends.

This was the first of many, many workshops ASWM conducted with a broad range of federal agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Other partners have included the Association of State Floodplain Managers, Society of Wetland Scientists, Coastal States Organization, National Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and the Environmental Law Institute.

Hundreds of symposia, workshops, publications, webpages, and webinars later, we are still looking for our keys (particularly in recent years). You must start where you are and not give up.  Jeanne and her capable ASWM staff including Marla, Brenda, Laura, Michael and Sharon continue to support state programs and efforts at all levels of government to apply sound science. Many who attended that first meeting in Florida also continue as wetland advocates and mentors.

We thank all of you for working and cooperating with us over the years.


Jon Kusler

Jon Kusler, Esq. Ph.D.