BLM's Jerry Asher Honored for Contributions to Weed Management
Viewed through untrained eyes, noxious weeds don’t appear dangerous, and some have beautiful flowers. But the BLM’s Jerry Asher saw the big picture: these fast-spreading weeds cause great damage to ecosystems on public lands in the West.
Jerry launched a decade-long crusade to educate the public about the importance of eradicating these harmful weeds. Managing invasive plants species is one of the great challenges the BLM faces today.
A noxious weed is any plant designated by a federal, state, or county government as injurious to public health, agriculture, recreation, wildlife, or property. Invasive weeds can spread over millions of acres.
Jerry—who passed away in September 2011—was recently honored for the invaluable contributions he made to the cause of weed management on public lands. The Western Society of Weed Science (WSWS) awarded Jerry the prestigious 2012 “Weed Manager of the Year Award” March 15 at their annual meeting in Reno, Nevada. Jerry’s wife, Cathy Asher, and his family accepted the award for him.
Jerry’s campaign brought the magnitude of the problem of noxious weeds to people’s attention. He taught locals how they could do their part to help eradicate weeds by reporting new infestations, pulling up weeds when they saw them, and enlisting others to become involved. Jerry addressed numerous audiences, national as well as local, including various Congressional committees, the Garden Club of America and members of the National Science Teachers Association. He coined the phrase, weeds are an “Explosion in Slow Motion”.
During his 40-year career with the BLM, Jerry worked as a wildlife biologist in California and New Mexico, Area Manager and District Manager in Oregon, and as a member of the National Weed Team.
Former BLM Director Robert Abbey said, “I can honestly say that I have never met a more committed, passionate, and effective weed manager than Jerry Asher. His influence on weed management in federal land management agencies cannot be overstated.”
Jerry was nominated by the BLM and its National Weed Team. Many of his colleagues signed letters of support, including members representing the 16 agencies of The Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds (FICMNEW). Members of FICMNEW praised his many contributions to weed management on BLM lands.
FICMNEW also honored Jerry with creation of the “Jerry Asher National Invasive Plant Management Memorial Award.” This award will be presented annually to someone who exhibits the kind of spirit, passion, and knowledge that Jerry exemplified throughout his career. Randy Westbrooks of the U.S. Geological Survey received the first award, presented March 1, 2012 during National Invasive Species Awareness Week in Washington, D.C.
The FICMNEW committee’s support letter said that his life achievements have “led to the establishment and implementation of sound invasive plant management policy and guidance which will last for decades to come.”
Cathy Asher, Jerry’s wife, accepts the 2012 “Weed Manager of the Year Award” presented in Jerry’s memory by the Western Society of Weed Science (WSWS). Pictured are Jill Schroeder, Awards Committee Chair; Cathy Asher; Julie Lipelt (Jerry’s daughter) and Vanelle Peterson, Past-President WSWS.