Jon A. Kusler


Jon A. Kusler, Esq., Ph.D.

July 25, 1941 – October 8, 2020

JonOn Thursday, October 8th, 2020, ASWM’s founder, Dr. Jon A. Kusler, Esq. passed away peacefully with his family by his side after heroically battling Multiple System Atrophy for more than a year. The global community of wetland and floodplain managers, scientists, policymakers, lawyers and practitioners have lost a colleague, a mentor and a friend. Jon paved the way for wetland and floodplain protection around the world, challenging us to think beyond the norm – to find new and innovative ways to solve some of our most pressing environmental issues. As a way to provide a place for communal reflection and to celebrate Jon’s life, ASWM has created a memorial page on its website where staff will be posting messages shared by those who knew Jon. If you would like to share a story or a sentiment on the page, please go here.

ASWM has also created a Jon A. Kusler Student Scholarship Award, a competitive award to fund all expenses for one or more students studying wetland science, law or policy (either undergraduate or graduate level) to attend ASWM’s annual State/Tribal/Federal Coordination meeting. Jon’s family has requested that any monetary gifts in Jon’s memory be contributed to the fund to continue his legacy for years to come. Contributions to the award can be made on ASWM’s donations page here.


Share your memories, stories, or share a photo of Jon. 

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Jon A. Kusler Student Scholarship Award

In honor of ASWM’s founder, Dr. Jon A. Kusler, Esq., ASWM has established the Jon A. Kusler Student Scholarship Award, a competitive award to fund all expenses for one or more students studying wetland science, law or policy (either undergraduate or graduate level) to attend ASWM’s annual State/Tribal/Federal Coordination meeting. Contributions to the scholarship award will ensure that Jon’s legacy lives on by building the capacity of the next generation to protect and restore our nation’s wetlands.

Donate here to the Jon A. Kusler Student Scholarship Award.


    Memories from Colleagues and Friends     
    From Max Finlayson, Institute for Land, Water & Society, Charles Sturt University    
    I met Jon in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1989 at the Wetlands and River Corridor Management conference where I was attending my first international wetland management meeting. It was likely one of many similar meetings for yourself and established colleagues, but it was a first for myself in my then new job in the UK. It was a great start to a career in wetland management, and later back into research. Thanks for your part in that – I don’t underestimate the value of such events in helping people get a start in their jobs and I guess also in their life directions. So thanks for that –a lot of thanks - the meeting and the people you enabled me to meet were certainly valuable. I’m pleased to have the opportunity to send a message, and say thanks for Jon’s support and guidance, and to also acknowledge his contributions to wetlands and to wetland managers. Be assured that his ideas and wisdom do continue through the efforts of many others, including this “raw” strongly accented wetlander from the tropical, crocodile inhabited, stinking hot swamps at the top of Australia. It’s all appreciated, and with fond memories, and much gratitude    
    Joe Berg, Biohabitats     
    Jon was a great guy that contributed so much to so many. He will be missed.      
    Michael Gease, Floodplain Manager    
    Jon A. Kusler was one of the true heavyweights who contributed much to my understanding and appreciation of floodplains and wetlands as an integrated natural system needing protection.    
    Mary Kentula, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency    
    Jon influenced so much throughout his lifetime and leaves an impressive legacy. I’ll always remember our phone calls and meetings during the planning and production of Wetland Creation and Restoration – The Status of the Science, which soon became a classic in the fields of wetland ecology and restoration. Most of all, I will remember Jon’s mentoring of a new PhD who was just beginning her career with EPA and was very “wet behind the ears”. I learned so much from Jon about how to build a team, garner support for a project, and execute a large product like Wetland Creation and Restoration. He will be missed and lovingly remembered by many, especially me.     
    Richard Smardon    
    Jon and I worked on many of his ASWM conferences and meetings. We co-chaired the 1990 Great Lakes Wetlands conference in Niagara Falls NY. We also worked together on the two ecotourism conferences in Merida Mexico and Miami Beach Florida. I remember sitting on a bench with Jon and Rud Platt in Knoxville Tennessee at a TVA meeting and exchanging past memories and future possibilities.    
    Ralph Tiner    

I was saddened to hear of Jon's passing.  I've known Jon for nearly half a century. He was an extraordinary of a kind. He was instrumental in bringing wetlands and floodplains to the forefront of national policy. He was a mover and a shaker.  I am most familiar with his work on wetlands that helped guide national wetland policy, promoting wetland regulation, restoration, assessment, and conservation. He was an inspiration to many. As an accomplished writer, especially of policy, Jon has left us thousands of pages of his insight into many topics relevant to wetland and floodplain protection and conservation.  He was also an adventurer as I remember him telling a story of a family vacation in Central America where they were chased by local militia. Jon was a man of many talents.  He was a rock hound and had quite a collection of rocks at his home.  He invited me and my family to accompany him on one of his local expeditions to dig for Herkimer diamonds in upstate New York.  My kids (now adults) still remember this adventure.  For on a hot humid New York summer day, we spent hours digging with Jon in one of his favorite spots.  His enthusiasm for digging was contagious and we were all impressed by his determination to help us find some gems.  We did come home with a few but on the way home we passed an Amish farmstand where they were selling some that were larger than our treasures so we bought a few to add to our collection.  Wetlands and floodplains are better off than they were before Jon began his campaign to help them.  Thanks Jon for all your efforts and for establishing the Association of State Wetland Managers that will continue to fight for wetlands and floodplains.  May you rest in peace my friend.



Jon and Anna


AwardJon as a teenager



Jon and Family with Gilbert White


 Jon and Crystals