Community-based Habitat Restoration Volunteering

The Bolsa Chica Land Trust
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photos from Eco-Cam 2017

Spring 2022 Newsletter

Now Available Online

Our Mission

The mission of the Bolsa Chica Land Trust is the acquisition, preservation, and restoration of all of Bolsa Chica and the education of the public to its natural wonders and cultural significance.

Our Work


The Land Trust is working to acquire and protect the last threatened 11 acres at Bolsa Chica to save a unique archaeological site and precious open space habitat.


The Land Trust’s Bolsa Chica Stewards have been working since 1996 on the Mesa habitat restoration project. Over 15,000 volunteers have helped heal our local environment.


Bolsa Chica needs constant and well planned care to keep its habitats functioning and healthy. Saving it is just the start, caring for it is part of our commitment.


The Land Trust conducts educational programs to build awareness about the role of the Bolsa Chica wetlands system in the natural and urban environment, and tell the story of its rich history.

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Spring ‘Music from the Mesa’ Newsletter

New Research Program Launched

In late 2020, the Land Trust Board of Directors formulated the idea of initiating a research program to scientifically document Bolsa Chica’s flora and fauna, elucidate the relationships between species and their habitats, and document longitudinal changes in the environment due to global warming and other threats. A research coordinator was brought onboard, and we are now excited to announce the details of this exciting new program. We hope to attract academic faculty and graduate students engaged in ecological research. The Land Trust set aside a fund to support some study expenses.

The research program is an attractive opportunity for faculty and students in ecological and other sciences to conduct scholarly research in the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve with access to saltwater bays, mudflats, salt marsh, coastal dunes, seabird nesting islands, riparian, freshwater marsh, coastal sage scrub, and grassland. The Reserve provides critical habitat for more than 250 wildlife species.

Bolsa Chica has much to offer research scientists, and we have much to learn so that we can better care for the Reserve in the future. We believe launching this new program will mutually benefit the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve and researchers.

A detailed description of the program can be found on the Research Page.

2023 ‘Wings Over Bolsa’ Calendar

Elegant Tern Leg Band Reporting

The Elegant Terns (Thalasseus elegans) are back at Bolsa Chica (can we get a hip hip hooray)! Elegant Terns are colonial nesters and form huge flocks of thousands of birds. They are also quite loud and are often heard long before they are seen.

As many people know, last year was devastating for the Elegant Tern colony at Bolsa Chica, because of illegal drone activity. Thousands of eggs were abandoned on North Tern Island (which can be seen on our live Eco-Cam). However, a little while later, Elegant Terns, possibly the same ones, nested in Long Beach Harbor in an area far from ideal. This resulted in hundreds of orphaned chicks. CDFW and other groups quickly went to work to save, and happily release, the birds back into the wild. Before the birds were released, they were marked with temporary pink feather ink on their chests and heads, in addition to a metal leg band on one leg and a red or orange leg band on the other leg. These markers help scientists monitor the Terns post release.

Now CDFW is asking for the community’s help! Now that the Elegant Terns are arriving back to the area, they are asking everyone to share any sightings to the USGS bird banding lab and/or International Bird Rescue.

USGS Banded Bird Encounter Reporting:
International Bird Rescue Reporting a Banded Bird:

Thank you for your help!

Melissa Borde, BCER Manager

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Poseidon Desalination

BCLT’s Position on Poseidon

The Bolsa Chica Land Trust’s position is the following:  The Bolsa Chica Land Trust is OPPOSED to the Poseidon Desalination Plant (also being called the Huntington Beach Seawater Desalinization Plant) due to the significant environmental damage that the plant will inflict to our precious coastal environment.  The Bolsa Chica Land Trust will remain neutral in the discussion of any proposed mitigation during the permitting process.

Many of you may be seeing mailers and videos promoting the Poseidon desalination plant.  Poseidon is working on acquiring the required permits to build its desalinization plant adjacent to the AES power plant on Pacific Coast Highway here in Huntington Beach.  BCLT is an environmental organization, and although our primary focus is on Bolsa Chica, it and our coastal environment are forever linked.  As such, we at BCLT are very concerned about threats to our coastal environment, including the impacts projected to be caused directly from a fully functioning Poseidon desalinization plant.   The ocean is the life blood of Bolsa Chica, and we will not support any project that threatens our ocean wildlife.  The Poseidon plant is expected when operational to create a 421.4 acre dead zone, or “area of production forgone” as it is described in the permitting documents.   As for the mitigation that Poseidon is stating that they will give to Bolsa Chica – yes, Bolsa Chica is in need of considerable and continuing funding, the damage that people inflicted on Bolsa Chica for over one hundred years left it in need of significant care.  BCLT is working hard with the State and Federal agencies involved in the oversight of our wetlands to help identify ways to care for Bolsa Chica in a more fiscally sustainable manner without compromising on biological diversity, and without creating dead zones in our fragile coastal ecosystems.

Good afternoon my name is Kim Kolpin and I am the Executive Director of the Bolsa Chica Land Trust.  BCLT’s position is that we are in opposition of the proposed Poseidon plant due to the environmental damage it would cause.  We are thankful to the State Lands Commission for looking for every opportunity to bring needed funding to Bolsa Chica.  There is no doubt that the lowlands of Bolsa Chica are in increasingly dire need of support and some amount of dredging will be required to continue to keep the tidal inlet open and lowlands healthy into the future.  However, we agree with the presentation that the environmental coalition presented yesterday opposing this project.

Is this project worth the cost of killing marine life for decades?  BCLT says no.  Our coastal environment is precious and, and we are opposed to projects that would harm it.

BCLT is partnering with the steering committee for Bolsa Chica on a Sustainabilities Alternative Study for the tidal inlet and lowlands which will identify measures that can be taken to relieve some of the maintenance burden while retaining the biodiversity of the wetlands.  That study is due to be completed by the end of this year.

The Army Corps of Engineers is currently working on a plan for the Westminster Flood Control channel, which would increase the ability to move rainwater to the ocean more quickly, with no water retention capabilities planned.  The lack of vision on how to best use water sources within the county is very disappointing.

I also must state that on behalf of BCLT’s Board and 5,000 community members, we find it so very offensive that Mr. Maloni and Poseidon are calling this project an ‘environmental enhancement project’ and that they are portraying themselves as the ‘savior’ of Bolsa Chica.  Far too many people, over the course of decades, have worked tirelessly to save, support the restoration of, and preserve the wildlife habitats at Bolsa Chica.  Poseidon is only focused on Bolsa Chica because they have to mitigate for the environmental damage their plant would cause, not because they care.

Kim Kolpin
Executive Director

Tern Nesting Islands Restoration Project

Least Tern with chick by Robin HoylandThe two Tern Nesting Islands are critical habitat and serve 13 avian species including the endangered California Least Tern and Western Snowy Plover. The islands are more than 40 years old and currently are degraded and under immediate threat of flooding caused by extreme tides and sea-level rise. The Bolsa Chica Land Trust is proud to be able to start the process of restoring these habitats to improve their resiliency in the event of flooding.

Funding for this project comes from a $135,000 Prop. 68 Pacific Flyway conservation grant administered by the Wildlife Conservation Board.

Read full Press Release

Sustainable Alternatives Study for the lowland wetland system at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

Press Release

February 14, 2022: The Bolsa Chica Land Trust is pleased to announce the release of the Sustainable Alternatives Study for the lowland wetland system at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.