Jan Vandersloot
Bolsa Chica Land Trust
Huntington Beach, California

Dr. Jan Vandersloot co-founded the Bolsa Chica Land Trust (BCLT) and—by organizing concerned citizens, meeting with local officials, and building coalitions—led a 17-year effort to successfully preserve 1,700-acre Bolsa Chica wetland ecosystem in Southern California. A regular fixture at California Coastal Commission (CCC) meetings, his deep understanding of the California Coastal Act (CCA) and the California Environmental Quality Act and passion for protecting both large and small wetlands resulted in significant protection for coastal wetlands across the state. As part of the BCLTs effort, they sued the California Coastal Commission over their plan to allow development in the Bolsa Chica wetlands. Their successful argument that the plan violated the CCA provided important precedent for wetland protection. Dr. Vandersloot’s effort protected hundreds of acres of wetlands. A day after his sudden and unexpected passing in November 2009, the CCC decided to raise the penalty for the destruction of wetlands and increase the stringency of restoration requirements. His leadership style brought people together because he calmly and factually argued his case for why wetland protection was so important.