Activist honored with oaks

A plaque and ribbon mark one of 15 trees planted at Castaways Park in memory of Dr. Jan Vandersloot. The trees were dedicated on Saturday.
(Kent Treptow)

They’re difficult to notice for now.

The row of saplings lining the western edge of Castaways Park in Newport Beach just north of Cliff Drive are about as tall as a person and no thicker than a baseball bat and blend in with the tall grass, bushes and trees behind them.

But just give them time.

Like the man they were planted in honor of, the late environmentalist Jan Vandersloot, these young oak trees will make their presence known in the years to come and assuredly beautify Newport Beach.


“He wasn’t a man for accolades, but this was something important to him. It’s such an honor that it’s something so permanent,” said Vandersloot’s son, Jon.

On Saturday morning, Jon, his sister Tiffany and a few of Vandersloot’s friends walked from the Environmental Nature Center down the street to Castaways Park, where a yellow ribbon had been tied around one of the trees with a plaque in the activist’s honor at the base.

It read: “In memory of Dr. Jan Vandersloot, healer of people and places.”

The local environmental group Stop Polluting Our Newport, planted 15 oak trees in Vandersloot’s honor. After their annual brunch Saturday, the group recognized the man who helped save the Bolsa Chica Wetlands in Huntington Beach, among other accomplishments.


Last month, Vandersloot was posthumously honored with the National Wetlands Conservationist Award by the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, D.C.

Before his death in November, Vandersloot donated money to Castaways Park so it could be hydro-seeded with spring flowers.

Tiffany Vandersloot said her father was an inspiration whose morals and integrity shaped her life.

Vandersloot’s plaque and trees are on the western edge of the park just off Cliff Drive, a few steps off the sidewalk on Dover Drive.