Jim King
California Coastal Conservancy
Oakland, California

Nature needs a defender in the beat-up U.S./Mexico borderlands. Dry much of the time, the Tijuana River enters the United States as a beleaguered ephemeral stream. Just four miles downstream, where the river meets the Pacific Ocean, a contrasting nature reigns-salt marsh, estuary, and sea-a sublime scene that often belies the ills of the watershed. These wetlands are home to a rich array of once-common southern California species now in peril in a landscape dominated by humans. Jim King knows and loves this troubled place and its wildlife. Despite huge challenges, he is their champion.

Mr. King is a project manager for the California Coastal Conservancy, a state agency devoted to habitat protection and Pacific Ocean access. For nearly 15 years, he has carried forth a bold vision for the rough-and-tumble borderlands. In this region-one of the world's biological hot spots-where as much as 90 percent of coastal wetlands have been destroyed and urban impacts spiral out of control, Mr. King has been instrumental in developing a community-based restoration program with striking results. He has organized assessments and plans, raised scarce dollars, and broken ground on projects that have enhanced or restored more than 220 acres of tidal wetlands. Mr. King has demonstrated that successful restoration requires a multi-faceted approach that includes science, planning, facilitation, fundraising, and organizational capacity building. His endurance and commitment to difficult work in a difficult place inspires people. He shows us clearly what most people have a hard time imagining: our actions now can make a difference for future generations.

— Nina Garfield, Estuarine Reserves Division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Silver Spring, Maryland