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Creek Running North
August 24, 2005
Look for more stories like this to come
CARRIZO PLAIN NATIONAL MONUMENT, Calif. - First she killed her dogs, shot them in the head with a .38-caliber revolver and covered the two bodies with a quilt. Then Marlene Braun leveled the blue steel muzzle three inches above her right ear and pulled the trigger.
"I can't face what appears to be required to continue to live in my world," the meticulous 46-year-old wrote in May in a suicide note. "Most of all, I cannot leave Carrizo, a place where I finally found a home and a place I love dearly."
Braun had come to the Carrizo Plain three years earlier, after the U.S. Bureau of Land Management placed her in charge of the new national monument - 250,000 acres of native grasses and Native American sacred sites, embraced by low mountains, traversed by the San Andreas Fault and home to more threatened and endangered animals than any other spot in California.
Suicide is rarely an indication of an emotionally healthy person. As desperate as the planet's state may be, Braun would have chosen well to devote her grief to saving another part of this beleaguered West.
But love for a landscape can be a fierce, all-encompassing thing.
And few people develop stronger love for a new landscape than the grunt-level managers hired to steward the place. As the Bush administration increasingly puts the screws to real conservation initiatives, lying about science and selling out our common heritage to its base of resource extractors, look for more despair among the people we charge with protecting the land.
Posted by Chris Clarke at August 24, 2005 09:44 AM
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See the Billings Outpost for more on this story, Aug. 25 and the latest issue, Sept. 15. Our public lands are in real trouble if the supervisors running them are like the ones in Hollister, Bakersfield and Redding. And I know if more problems in other California BLM offices. Something very toxic is going on, not in the environment per se, but in the management offices!Posted by: Mel at September 18, 2005 04:58 AM
I checked out the Billings Outpost issues and there are some interesting things there. There is a blm employee (?) making claims Marlene Braun was not listening to experts about grazing. I am not sure what went on with the grazing debate. as an environmental person i care a lot about the issue and think the writer makes some weird claims about endangered species being killed by not enough grazing. But isnt the problem here that this woman shot herself and it ought to be looked into? I mean, even if she was hard to deal with we dont say to spouses who batter, "oh, yeah, your wife was a real pain in the butt, so it's OK that you drove her to kill herself." Why should an employer get to do it?Posted by: Germain J. Barker at September 28, 2005 10:49 AM
What you said about the love of a landscape being a fierce, all encompassing thing really hit me. I knew Marlene a little and she really felt that about the Carrizo, you could tell in even a few minutes. I hope more people will come to love the landscape. She and her coworkers in the Carrizo really did great things there. Please remember the beauty.Posted by: Maureen S. at October 1, 2005 04:11 PM
I have seen the comments on the Billings Outpost. This site struck me because of the few comments, but that they have to do with the land and this tragedy. Preserving the land means investigating what happened here. It still seems like no one is doing that. All over California and maybe the west this stuff is happening. We have to say enough.Posted by: Bart Collier at October 2, 2005 05:31 PM