Hazel Sinclair
Covington, Louisiana

Ms. Hazel Sinclair, a high school biology teacher and a New Orleans and southeastern Louisiana native, is passionate about nature, her state’s coastal wetlands, and public education. These values led her to produce a documentary film that explores the role of Louisiana’s alligator ranching industry in wetland preservation.

In 1999 a 200-acre subdivision was sited in a pristine wetland near her home. Ms. Sinclair spent more than five years leading an effort to protect the area, working with fifteen civic groups, speaking at public meetings, holding media events, using scientific data, promoting conservation techniques, pursuing legal proceedings, and partnering with government entities.

Assisted by the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, Ms. Sinclair helped reverse the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ section 404 wetland permit for the subdivision. The landmark federal court ruling was a victory for her community and set a precedent for future court challenges on behalf of wetlands. She and the clinic also successfully overturned the project’s state-issued water quality permit.

In 2003 Ms. Sinclair joined a local committee lobbying for green space protection. Recognizing a serious need to educate her community about the value of wetland protection, she wrote, produced, and financed a 30-minute documentary on wetlands, Living Infrastructure, that aired on local television stations.