What’s new with Ron Huntsinger, the BLM National Science Coordinator?

Readers of this blog might be interested to know what the Bureau of Land Management’s National Science Coordinator is up to these days. Mr. Ron Huntsinger has joined the CESU COUNCIL. The CESU Network is coordinated and provided support by the CESU Council. That stands for Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Units. “The Council includes representatives of participating Federal agencies operating under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the CESU Network. A CESU Council Coordinator is elected by the members.”

US Dept. of Interior:

Ron Huntsinger
National Science Coordinator
Bureau of Land Management
1620 L Street , Room 1050
Washington , DC 20036
Phone: (202) 452-5177
Fax: (202) 452-5112
Email: Ron_Huntsinger@blm.gov

The Public Lands Monitor for Fall, 2009 also has a presentation by Ron Huntsinger, National Science Coordinator, BLM Headquarters Office, Washington, D.C. “BLM Adaptations to Changes in Climate.”

Click for Ron Huntsinger’s PowerPoint presentation.

Secretary Salazar has issued a Secretarial Order on climate change and renewable energy. Four work groups have been formed to develop a supplemental strategy for the BLM. It is working on adaptive management guidance to complement the climate change strategy for both the DOI and BLM. It is developing a rapid assessment process at the eco-regional scale to allow for identification of areas suitable for renewable resource development. A national monitoring network and regionalized science support capability is being proposed in DOI, in which BLM will participate. Under the new BLM science strategy, it is developing a technology transfer process to assure that best management practices, adaptive management strategies, decision support tools, and research results are incorporated in BLM training and management programs, as well as being made available to other users.

Also at that meeting was Mike Pool, BLM Deputy Director for Operations, Washington, D.C., who described some of the major public land initiatives BLM is dealing with:

BLM is focused on renewable energy development. Solar and wind energy facilities have the potential for large scale displacement of other public land values. A Solar Programmatic EIS is being prepared to help BLM decide how to implement renewable energy programs. At the same time, BLM is reviewing how it manages conventional energy resource goals.

The National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) fits well with the Department’s landscape protection initiative. The NLCS created a balance and gives strength to BLM and the agency’s array of management programs. There will be emphasis on identifying and protecting cultural and historic resources. Friends groups are being developed that are building new coalitions, partnerships, and diplomats for the BLM.

The BLM’s Resource Management Plans (RMP) are one of the foundations of the BLM. These “masterful documents” are rich with information, and are good temporary blueprints of what BLM needs to do to manage for today’s uses of the public lands. The RMPs are continually being amended to meet changing needs. Local governments and local publics compliment the BLM in saying that nobody works with them better than the BLM. There is a culture in the BLM that knows how to deal with the public on difficult issues, and a process that leads to good, sound decisions.

The BLM will continue to manage a high level of economic resources and recreation. Challenging lawsuits over sage grouse, desert tortoise and other Threatened and Endangered Species are now recognized as part of the decision making process and BLM is improving its products for dealing with these issues.

Mike Pool presented retiring PLF President George Lea with a bronze buffalo statue with thanks for George’s service and dedication to the Public Lands Foundation, and he thanked the PLF for being a great supporter of the BLM.

DR. Huntsinger (no, he didn’t actually get a Ph.D.) also has been presenting on Climate Change at conferences such as the Southwest Region Fish and Wildlife Service Workshop. It probably looks better for him to appear to have an advanced degree, but all he has a BS.

The “bad science of the Bush administration” seems to be perpetuating itself under the Obama administration.

What’s our national BLM science coordinator up to? Not a lot.

What has your national science coordinator at the Bureau of Land Management in Washington, D.C. been doing lately? The answer is, not a lot.
Besides giving a conference paper here or there, we can find only one bit of testimony before Congress, a powerpoint presentation, and a few other minor things. The recommendation of the Public Land Foundation seem to have fallen on deaf ears (see below).

What’s being done

Although the directors of land agencies have spoken of their concern about climate change for many years, there is little evidence that actual efforts are under way to create ways to adapt to it. Most of what has gone on, as of the summer of 2008, is still in the category of talking, meeting, and scheduling workshops. However, some agency heads are now trying to construct the guidance that GAO and others said has been sorely missing.

They also are realizing that climate change is not another pesky environmentalist buzzword that should be invoked alongside the usual suspects of habitat loss, invasive species, and the like. Ron Huntsinger, the national science coordinator for the Bureau of Land Management, says, “We have been addressing the impacts of changing climates for some time, but not under the rubric of ‘climate change.’

“We know what some of the anthropogenic causative factors are, and we should be taking appropriate action on those. Right now the focus is on greenhouse gases, which I think is shortsighted. We should be responding to ecosystem changes”—for example, the waste of natural resources, the “extravagant use of energy,” and the use of products like broad-spectrum pesticides—and developing better recycling and transportation systems. “This is a systemic issue not restricted to the effects on climate change, but which encompasses the larger issues of the general health and well-being of humans and natural systems,” Huntsinger says.

Lynn Scarlett, the interior department’s deputy secretary, attributes increased activity at the department to a variety of recent public reports. She points to “the accumulated amount of research information and knowledge building, all of which have come together to amplify the seriousness of the issue and drive people to take action.” She named a number of assessments and task forces, along with the efforts of the USGS. “I think certainly the creation of the Climate Change Task Force by Secretary [Dirk] Kempthorne has been a spark to action. All of these things together, I think, have increased the pace and extent” of action. (Asked about Al Gore’s contribution, she replied: “I don’t know how much that figured into folks’ thoughts. I haven’t heard that mentioned by folks as a driver.”)

The Climate Change Task Force that Scarlett cites, and which she heads, brings together some three dozen interior department experts to explore issues facing climate change science. The group has been meeting periodically for a year and a half, with the aim of providing Secretary Kempthorne with a body of information on which to act. The meetings have been closed to the public, and records of its deliberations are not available publicly.

In October, 2008, BLM put out a call for nominations to all State Directors as follows:

Information Bulletin No. 2009-006

To: All State Directors

From: Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning

Subject: Call for Nominations for Science Committee Members DD: 10/17/2008

The Director has approved the revised Science Strategy (attachment 1) and the charter for the Science Committee (attachment 2). The Science Strategy calls for a formal approach to the application of science to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) programs based on the identification of agency priorities. The Science Committee will play a key role for the BLM in the future, including prioritizing and approving research project proposals for funding. Both documents are currently being printed at the National Operations Center.

The first step in implementing the strategy is the formation of the Science Committee. There are 12 members of the Committee. Three positions on the committee are filled by nominations from the field, and are to represent the three levels of officials of the BLM field organization – Deputy State Directors, District Managers, and Field Managers. These committee members will serve terms of 2 years, with the potential of reappointment for an additional 2 years. The committee is expected to meet or conference twice a year – shortly after the new budget year, and prior to the development of the budget justification. However, additional sessions may be called if circumstances warrant. In order to keep costs down, it is anticipated that most of the meetings will be by conference call.

Recognizing that Committee members already have a great demand on their time, it is our desire to utilize the work of the committee efficiently, and limit the additional demand that participation would require. To do so, the Committee will be assisted by the Division of Resource Services and a standing subcommittee made up of the State Office Science Coordinators, Regional Science Coordinators, and the Joint Fire Science Coordinator at the National Interagency Fire Center. The first task of the Committee will be to participate in the development of the implementation plan for the Science Strategy. With the recognition of the need to better manage our research activities as a part of the M4E initiative, we would like to initiate this effort in the near future. To that end, please submit your nominations for the three field representative positions by the due date cited above.

It is our desire to schedule the first meeting of the Science Committee before the end of the current calendar year. Nominees will be notified of their selection to the Committee, and the scheduling of the first meeting.

Thank you for your assistance in this very important effort. For further information please contact Ron Huntsinger, National Science Coordinator, at (202) 452-5177.

Signed by: Authenticated by:
Edwin L. Roberson Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Renewable Resources and Planning

2 Attachments
1 – Bureau of Land Management Science Strategy (18 pp)
2 – Science Committee Charter (3 pp)

Public Lands Foundation Position Statement

The Role of Science in BLM Land Management Decisions


Science is important for supporting land management decisions and helping to outline their consequences. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) must state clearly the role of science in resource management decision-making and act accordingly. The use of science within BLM has received critical media attention. Recent media debates about perceived conflicts between scientists, policy makers and political appointees have led the public to question public policy decisions, and have eroded the public trust. The Public Lands Foundation (PLF) believes BLM needs to reinforce its institutional commitment to the application of science to land management decisions. Also, BLM would benefit from increased partnerships with public and private science providers in making informed resource management decisions. The use of the best available science is critical when developing public land policy. A clearly understood and transparent relationship between scientists and policy makers can be highly productive and beneficial to BLM and the public.


Land management is complex because the natural and social systems that are affected are complex. Full consideration of relevant scientific information can improve land management decisions. It can expand the number of options considered, and it can increase the probability that intended outcomes will be achieved. The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) directs BLM to use science in its decision-making process:

In the development and revision of land use plans, the Secretary shall use a systematic interdisciplinary approach to achieve integrated consideration of physical, biological, economic and other sciences. [Section 201, FLPMA]

Policy development is rightfully a political process. When done well it involves defining the issues; gathering the best scientific knowledge and technology, pertinent facts and opinions about the issues; and then designing a policy to address the issues in a scientifically sound, socially acceptable, economically feasible and legally possible manner. Poor public policy results when scientific knowledge and facts are ignored, suppressed or distorted to further a particular political agenda. Likewise, poor public policy can occur when narrow scientific analysis is used to dictate and justify complex policy choices that involve social and political outcomes. Both misuses of science by policy makers and by scientists (and science providers such as U.S. Geological Survey, Agricultural Research Service, academia, etc.) impact the public’s trust in BLM’s decisions.

BLM, as defined by FLPMA, is not by itself a scientific research organization; rather, BLM is a resource management agency that uses science to inform its land management decisions and policies. Scientific research provides data and knowledge for BLM decisions in land use planning, National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) analyses and policy options.

Fundamentally, quality resource management depends on the interface of science and policy. Within BLM the interface between science and policy occurs primarily at the field management level when land management decisions are made or at the national level when policies are developed. At the present time, the linkage between science and policy-making is often informal and serendipitous.

Most science providers have rules (policies, manuals, guidelines, codes of ethics, etc.) for producing science, getting peer review, and interfacing with policy makers. BLM does not. Thus, BLM must rely on luck, opportunity and its limited institutional capabilities to link science and policy.

BLM does not have a separate research organization. However, it has a wide variety of highly-qualified resource professionals and researchers inside and outside of the agency who provide scientifically based information to inform the policy-making processes.

Whether science is the underpinning or the driver of policy is not always clear. Science should be neutral to policy and both scientists and policy makers need to understand this. Science provides the facts on which good analysis and policy can be based. Scientists and policy makers must work together to make decisions on complex biological, physical and social science issues.

As long as there have been professional resource managers, there have been scientists in the field of resource management. Current media attention indicates that those who promote and oppose current BLM policy decisions both use science to justify their policy positions.

Advancements in policy often lag behind advancements in science and technology. And, conclusive science is often not available within practical timeframes to inform management decisions. Within BLM, the informal linkage of science and policy leads to further diminishment of science influencing policy. Recent expansion of concepts such as ecological restoration, landscape scale analysis, and multiple species habitat conservation plans are just examples. Best Management Practices based on scientific analysis of their consequences and efficacy would be an example of an appropriate and timely linkage of science and policy.

Historical BLM efforts have made a start at increasing its institutional capability and commitment to the use of relevant science, but much still remains. On September 26, 2000, the BLM Director approved BLM’s Science Strategy (available at http://www.blm.gov/nstc) which sets forth an overall approach to science with the following three primary objectives:

1. “to delineate the role of science in BLM decision making and public land management;

2. to establish a clear process for identifying science needs and priorities and to assure that those needs are reflected in the Bureau’s Strategic Plan and budget; and

3. to provide a mechanism for communicating the Bureau’s science needs, sharing its science and results, and highlighting its science opportunities on BLM-managed public lands.”

From the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, BLM used a Science Coordination Committee with representatives from each State and the Headquarters offices to address science needs. This committee played an important role by providing, among other things, internal coordination of calls for research priorities from agencies such as the U.S. Geological Survey, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Forest Service, etc. The committee was discontinued for a couple of years (about 1996 to 1998), re-established in 1998, and then disbanded again within the last few years. BLM Science Advisor positions in the Headquarters office also were eliminated. Over time, Science Coordinator positions were created in several directorates to provide some focus on science at the Headquarters level. Their success has been directly proportional to priority given to science by their Assistant Director. And, a commitment by one Assistant Director did not necessarily translate into a commitment by all Assistant Directors.

A Science Advisory Board (a Federal Advisory Committee Act—FACA—committee) was established in about 1996, which consisted of representatives from outside of BLM. Its charter was allowed to lapse within the last few years.

PLF Annual Meeting

At its annual meeting in Golden, Colorado in September 2006, PLF was privileged to have Patricia Nelson Limerick, Professor of History, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, as a luncheon speaker. Professor Limerick spoke about the history of western expansion and the importance of science to decision-making. Later in the meeting, a panel composed of a BLM scientist and a BLM manager spoke on “Science in BLM Decision-making.” Panelists emphasized the need for scientists who understand BLM laws and programs and can explain their findings in terms that managers can understand and use in decision-making. BLM panelists also recognized that NSTC has limited capability to create new science and that its basic role is linking field management to relevant science.


BLM’s use of science is part of a continuing public dialogue. Patricia Limerick has stated: “In shaping the West’s past, present, and future, no factor is more interesting and consequential than the role of science.” She goes further to explain a number of circumstances that reflect BLM’s role, as mandated by FLPMA in the “new west”. These include such concepts as BLM’s ability to promote partnerships among diverse interests, skill at advancing ecological restoration and rehabilitation of degraded habitats, landscape scale analysis, and skill at adapting to local variation. This management occurs within a context of multiple risk and multiple demands, commonly known as multiple use management.

We concur with her conclusions, and proffer that BLM, as the largest federal land manager with the most diverse land management responsibilities, has a continuing and expanding role in the American west to continue its legacy of promoting, utilizing, and advancing sound science for land management decisions. And, PLF calls upon BLM to increase its institutional capability and commitment to use relevant science in policy development, NEPA analyses and land management decisions.

PLF believes BLM’s Science Strategy clearly articulates a process for effectively using science and technology in BLM land management decision-making. However, PLF also believes BLM management needs to make an even stronger commitment to a) implementing this Strategy than it has in the recent past, b) acquiring the resources needed to assure science is given appropriate consideration in natural resource management decisions, and c) share that commitment with its staff, constituents and the public. BLM needs to walk the talk.

Practicing science in a political environment is always challenging, especially without rules and guidelines. Practicing science in a highly decentralized organization also is difficult. Current trends in diminishing the role of BLM’s science organization and eliminating the technology transfer and linkage between science and policy is troubling. Budget cuts in this arena provide only short term benefits and further reduce BLM’s capability to manage the public lands based on relevant scientific concepts. There are opportunities for BLM to reinforce its capability and commitment to the development and use of sound science. We also believe there are opportunities to further define and refine a linkage between science and policy. The Forest Service, as an example, has clear roles and relationships between researchers and policy makers (See Mills, et al).

There are opportunities to formalize roles and relationships between scientists and policy makers, so that media misinformation and the loss of public trust can be avoided. BLM must protect itself from the manipulation of science by institutionalizing the linkage between science and policy and strengthening the roles for scientists, practitioners and managers in policy development.

BLM’s new Managing for Excellence initiative, among other things, proposes to establish a single National Operations Center (NOC) in Denver, Colorado. This will give the NOC a senior executive to lead and manage the organization. NOC will centralize NSTC, the Lands and Resources Project Office, the National Information Resources Management Center, the National Human Resources Management Center, the National Training Center, and the National Business Center under a single Director who will be responsible for servicing the entire BLM. PLF is on record in support of NOC considering it a means of increasing the visibility and stature of NSTC and the other important offices and their service to the field and Headquarters offices of the Bureau.

BLM should avoid the short term expediency of down-sizing NSTC. Even under current budget constraints, it is important that BLM commit to maintaining the current capability of the Center, and to the role of science and technology in resource management. A centralized control is needed to ensure that BLM’s limited research and development dollars are well-spent for the benefit of BLM as a whole. NTSC is the natural location for this operational work.

The Managing for Excellence initiative should advance and promote the role of NSTC in the sound development of national policy. This should lead to an advanced role for NSTC to develop scientific analyses of land management choices, based upon the best available science from within and outside BLM, with consequences and implications identified for policy makers to consider.

The BLM is well-served by a modest centralized science organization like NSTC, lead by a senior executive serving on the BLM leadership team, operated in cooperation with the entire BLM organization, and supplemented with various scientific experts who are located at other BLM duty stations.


The Public Lands Foundation recommends:

1. Roles for Scientists and Managers: BLM establish clear roles and ethical guidelines for policy makers and scientists (i.e., researchers) which foster independent and objective scientific input into policy formulation. This role statement should be unique to the BLM multiple use mission (as compared to single use management) and focus on the complexity of multiple risk assessment in highly complex habitats and landscapes. The Forest Service’s guidelines for scientists and managers are an excellent template for BLM to consider. (See Mills, et al, 2002).

2. Scientific Analysis of Policy Implications: BLM establish guidelines for disclosing scientific consequences that can guide options and alternatives to be considered in proposed land management decisions.

3. Science-based Infrastructure: BLM increase its commitment to the BLM Science Strategy and create an infrastructure to support science in land management decision-making.

4. Science Advisory Board: BLM re-establish a Science Advisory Board to provide independent counsel to the Director on linking policy proposals to relevant and current science findings, and to discuss the potential consequences of proposed new policy based on scientific interpolations.

5. Linking Science and Resource Management: BLM establish a National Operations Center in Denver, as provided for in its Managing for Excellence initiative, to strengthen the linkage of science and resource management decision-making and to provide increased visibility and stature to NSTC and other operational offices.


“Making the Most of Science in the American West: An Experiment,” Patricia Limerick and Claudia Puska, Report #5, from the Center of the American West, University of Colorado, 2003.

Available at www.centerwest.org

“Achieving Science-Based National Forest Management Decisions While Maintaining the Capability of the Research and Development Program,” Thomas J. Mills, Richard V. Smythe, and Hilda Diaz-Soltero, Pacific Northwest Research Station, April 2002, 20 pages.

“Bureau of Land Management Science Strategy,” BLM/RS/PL-00/001+1700, September 26,2000, 19 pages. Available at www.blm.gov/nstc.

Carrizo Plain National Monument faces threats from inside and out

Carizzo Faces Threats from Inside and Out (San Luis Obispo New Times)
Saving the silence
Carrizo Plain National Monument faces threats from inside and out

The Carrizo Plain opened up like an earthen vault, its natural jewels spilling before my eyes, accompanied by serious silence. I had traveled a long journey inland by pickup truck to explore the riches of the remote national monument some 70 miles from SLO.

Encompassing 250,000 acres, the vast grasslands extended endlessly north, crept casually up the rolling hills to the east, and jutted violently into mountains on the west. The road soon turned to dirt before continuing all the way to the alkali-rimmed Soda Lake, a refuge for rare birds and rarer shrimp. Attempting to get a grip on the monument’s official significance, I stopped at the Goodwin Visitors’ Center, where I was encouraged to hike to Painted Rock, one of the few outcroppings on the otherwise uninterrupted plain. Painted Rock is one of the inland Chumash people’s most revered shrines, a three-story high, rocky womb adorned with detailed pictographs that still speak after years of weather and vandalism. If I wasn’t already enchanted with the Carrizo, this spiritual experience sealed the deal.

Splendor imperiled

Despite the renewing tranquility of the spectacular natural vistas of the Carrizo Plain, there’s never been a more crucial moment for determining their future. As policymakers put the finishing touches on the monument’s official management plan—which has taken much longer than expected, due to official and personal politics—threats to the status quo loom both inside and outside its borders. From the oil and gas claims that cover nearly half of the protected acreage to the massive solar power plants being proposed just north of the monument’s border to debates over habitat restoration, cultural resources, and grazing practices, to an increasing amount of visitors, all involved are debating vital issues about the future of the Carrizo Plain National Monument. The results of those discussions will reveal what we as Californians consider our priorities, and could have ramifications that will echo far beyond the silence of the Carrizo Plain.

Located in the southeastern corner of the county, owned by the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and operated in partnership with the Nature Conservancy and the state Department of Fish and Game, the Carrizo Plain National Monument is home to more specially protected animal and plant species than almost anywhere in the country—from the kit fox, kangaroo rat, antelope squirrel, and blunt-nosed leopard lizard to the jewelflower, woolly-threads, and Hoover’s woolly-star. The 38-mile-long, 17-mile-wide Carrizo is considered to be the last vestige of what the 300-mile-long San Joaquin Valley looked like before agriculture took over; its ecosystem essentially extends another 50 or so miles to the north toward Highway 46 east of Paso Robles.

“This is the last remaining facsimile of the grasslands that once covered all of California,” explained Mike “Doc” Malkin, a former drama professor at Cal Poly, who’s a member of the Friends of the Carrizo Plain, a volunteer organization that
provides docents, builds trails, refurbishes historic buildings, removes old fences, and serves as the monument’s watchdog. “When it’s gone, it’s gone.” Throw in the antelope, elk, a few roving coyotes and cougars, eagles of the bald and golden variety, some fairy shrimp, songbirds galore, and the occasional California condor, and there’s little wonder why Carrizo has been called “California’s Serengeti.”

Carrizo’s historic homesteads, farms where people survived for generations by growing barley and winter wheat and ranches where cattle and sheep paid the bills, became more parched throughout the decades, forcing most folks to move on but allowing nature to fill in the void. By the mid-1980s, the Nature Conservancy teamed up with the BLM to create the Carrizo Plain Natural Area, which they did by buying more than 80,000 acres from land investment company Oppenheimer Industries in 1988. Congress kicked in money for another 50,000-plus acres within two years, and since then, smaller purchases have grown the monument to a quarter-million acres.

However, the protections, even as a national monument, remain somewhat tenuous, in large part due to the potential wealth of oil and gas that sit below the monument’s surface. Valid mineral resource claims exist on more than 100,000 acres of the monument; any development could have disastrous impacts on the Carrizo’s critters and calmness.

I took another trip to Carrizo Plain to meet up with Malkin, who was joined by the monument’s wildlife biologist Kathy Sharum and Roger Gambs, a retired biology professor from Cal Poly who’s active with Friends of the Carrizo Plain. Sharum and monument manager Johna Hurl both spend a great deal of time dealing with the difficult challenge of habitat restoration, which has become a hot button issue for those who’d rather use the monument for livestock grazing, hunting, off-road driving, and other potentially damaging activities. Some of those folks criticize native plant and animal restoration by saying that the genie of modern impacts and introduced species simply cannot be put back in the pre-European-contact bottle. “I don’t think any of us want to play God,” Sharum told me that day at the monument’s KCL Campground, where numerous orange flags, denoting kit fox and kangaroo rat dens, flapped in the midday wind. “We don’t have the perfect ecosystem,” she admitted. “But realistically, you work with what you have.”

Compared to other ruined landscapes across the world, the Carrizo isn’t too far off from its original form. That gives Sharum, Malkin, Gambs, and all the members of Friends of the Carrizo Plain hope for the future. Explained Gambs, while in the shade of a dilapidated barn with a telephoto lens around his neck, “We are trying to get the Carrizo up there with what could someday be an internationally recognized model of how a national
monument ought to operate.”

Planning for the Plain

The most crucial part of that model is the monument’s management plan, which is nearing completion. Today, everyone involved—from the BLM to its nine- member advisory committee to those watching from the sidelines, including Friends of the Carrizo Plain—is satisfied with the progress. But it wasn’t always that way.

Soon after the monument was created in 2001, 13-year BLM veteran Marlene Braun was named manager. Having been stationed in Alaska and Nevada, the workaholic Braun finally felt at home on the Carrizo, and took intense pride in protecting it. She scaled back grazing on sensitive grasslands and began developing the monument’s first management plan, which would phase out long-term livestock permits. Every agency signed on, even the BLM’s California office. Then, in March 2004, the Bush administration—which was critical of Clinton’s last-minute monument designations—appointed Ron Huntsinger as Braun’s supervisor in BLM’s Bakersfield field office. With marching orders to favor ranching over preservation and “fix this plan,” Huntsinger and Braun became immediate enemies. The two butted heads repeatedly, so much so that in May 2005, Braun—who had also been dealing with her own psychological demons—arranged her personal affairs and wrote a few important letters about her fears for the Carrizo. She then took a .38 caliber revolver, killed her two dogs—neatly placing their bodies under a quilt—and turned the gun on herself.

Braun’s suicide shocked the region, resulted in a federal investigation, and eventually led to Huntsinger’s transfer. The management plan was the fourth casualty. “The whole process imploded. It collapsed,” explained Neil Havlik, who was named to the monument’s advisory committee when it was created in 2002. “It was finally decided that the process should start all over again.” Relations soured between the Carrizo staff and the BLM higher-ups. “That trust took time to rebuild,” said Havlik, the City of San Luis Obispo’s natural resources manager, “but it has been rebuilt.” That’s thanks in large part to the appointment of Tim Smith as the BLM field supervisor in Bakersfield, who Havlik called a “really great guy.”

Nearly four years after Braun’s suicide, the current plan reflects her vision. “I am very happy with the plan,” said Havlik, who’s spent much of his last 13 years at the city protecting open space. “It is setting policies that are progressive, that are going to be responsive to scientific recommendations and input.” Specifically, the plan addresses grazing, mineral extraction, cultural resource protection, wilderness designation, and roads, and has proposed three alternatives that range from more hands-off management to intense involvement. The BLM staff’s preferred alternative is number two, which blends the two more extreme alternatives, encourages a “moderate” expansion of wilderness zones (where no motorized vehicles are allowed), reduces the redundant roadways, only allows
grazing for “vegetation management,” stabilizes historic sites, and makes Painted Rock accessible only by permit or tour.

Since BLM is an agency that traditionally allows extractive industries, the management plan does not affect the “valid and existing” mineral rights that cover about 100,000 acres of the monument, including four active oil wells in the Caliente Range. Any attempt to eliminate those surely would have led to a massive fight, but if a recent response to an oil-drilling proposal is any indication, the monument is in good hands.

That proposal came during the oil price spike of late 2007 from oil company Vintage Production, which announced its intent to do seismic testing on its 30,000 acres of mineral holdings on the valley floor. Testing would involve “thumper trucks” that send soundwaves into the Earth to look for oil and gas. That process, said Helen O’Shea of the Natural Resources Defense Council, “is particularly damaging in an environment like the Carrizo where you have animals like the kit fox and kangaroo rat that actually live underground.” When presented with this proposal, the BLM had multiple options, but they chose the strictest and asked Vintage for a full Environmental Impact Statement. Months later, the oil company has not yet responded. “We’re very pleased to see the BLM choose appropriately and hold the applicant to the highest possible standard,” said O’Shea.

One thing that’s not controllable is the number of visitors; increased use is something that’s worried former county supervisor Jerry Diefenderfer ever since it became a monument in 2001. A fourth generation Carrizo-dweller whose family has been ranching in the area since 1865, Diefenderfer was involved in the initial BLM acquisition in the ’80s, but thought a monument designation was “premature.” Diefenderfer, a former president of Friends of the Carrizo Plain, believes there is still not enough staff to watch over the quarter-million acres, even with only about 3,000 counted visitors per year. Indeed, anyone who spends much time on the Carrizo is bound to see some bizarre human activity—there’ve been accounts of drug-running, meth-making, body-dropping, sports car-burning, and the like for years. “I know a lot of people would like to have more activity there,” said Diefenderfer. “But I think it would be unhealthy for the monument to have that, simply because we’re not geared to handle a large number of people. And I quietly hope that day is a long way away.”

His government-fearing neighbor Darrell Twisselman, whose family has been on the Carrizo since the 1880s, agrees, and loudly. “The reason the endangered species [are] still there is because there was nothing out there but a few old farmers,” he explained in his good-ole-boy twang. “Now they’re bringing all kinds of people out there and they’re gonna defeat their purpose.” When the Wilderness Society tried to establish the Carrizo as a UNESCO World Heritage Site—which would have upped its international appeal—Twisselman “fought the hell out of that. You’d get 20,000 tourists running around here. That’s no way to protect your endangered species.” That campaign, which requires regional support, was shot down by county supervisors in March 2007.

For all his anti-environmentalist ire, Twisselman did play a major role in making the Carrizo what it is today. In the late 1980s, he helped the Department of Fish and Game reintroduce the pronghorn antelope and tule elk to the Carrizo, driving them down himself from Mount Shasta. Now, he allows people to hunt them on his land for a fee, and laughs when people cite them as some sort of threatened species. The self-proclaimed “true environmentalist” who believes the environmental movement has turned into a power-grab, recommends “building a big fence around it and getting away from it. Of course,” Twisselman continued with a chuckle, “I’m not very popular with those guys.”

Though the monument can’t physically restrict visitors from driving through, Havlik assured that the management plan is not designed to attract hordes of people. “In some ways, this is the place where time has gone backward,” he said. “The opportunity for solitude and reflection is really a great thing, and that’s one of the things I think everybody appreciates about the monument. We don’t want to make it into Disneyland. We don’t want a lot of attractions out there. The natural environment is the attraction.”

Solar Dreams or Eco-Nightmares?

While the monument’s managers may not be setting up the Carrizo as the “happiest place on Earth,” no one can deny it’s one of the sunniest. Pair that with cheap land, existing electrical transmission lines, and political pressure from both the state and feds for renewable energy, and it’s easy to understand why the lands just north of the monument’s border are being targeted for the most massive solar power plants on the planet. When combined, these proposed plants—two photovoltaic, under review by the county, and one solar thermal, under review by the California Energy Commission—would provide energy to nearly 100,000 homes but only by covering more than 16 square miles of the valley floor, an area nearly the size of the City of Santa Barbara. If all are approved—and there’s plenty of motivation in the federal stimulus plan, which will pay for 30 percent of projects that begin construction by 2010—many fear that the solar plants would block migration patterns for the kit fox, antelope, and other species, threaten Soda Lake by tapping an already overburdened groundwater basin, and damage views irrevocably.

“I live right in the middle of it,” said Mike Strobridge, an auto mechanic who lives with his daughter in a house near the monument that would be surrounded by the proposed plants. “It’s peaceful. I love the wildlife. Then these solar guys come in and they’re just gonna destroy the area.”

Robin Bell, who is building a retirement home about a quarter-mile away from a proposed plant, is worried, too, and has formed the Carrisa Alliance for Responsible Energy, or CARE. (“Carrisa Plains” is a colloquial name for the area.) She explained, “I personally feel strongly that all these rules and regulations are in place for a reason, and, in the name of being green, these power companies are exploiting that.” Bell favors distributed renewable energy, i.e., solar panels on homes and businesses throughout the state. “I totally support the development of renewable energy, but at what cost?” she asked. “This area has one of the highest concentrations of special species in the state. To me, it seems like the last place you should be doing this.”

Bell is also watching two bills moving through the state legislature that, if passed, would put all renewable energy projects under the control of a new state commission. (Currently, photovoltaic projects are reviewed by counties and industrial-type plants, such as solar thermal, are reviewed by the state.) Bell fears the bills would streamline the process too quickly and eliminate all local control.

The specific effect on the monument remains to be seen. But Mary Strobridge, a member of CARE and mother of Mike, is concerned the plants would ruin anyone’s experience who visited the monument from the northern entrance. “It would just be devastating to drive into the Carrisa Plains and see a 10-story-tall industrial solar plant right smack dab in the middle of it, with 640 acres of pipes and mirrors and around that photovoltaic cells going on for thousands and thousands of acres,” she said. “It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

Making sense of the two photovoltaic projects is the job of John McKenzie, a county planner. Among other issues, he’s analyzing migration corridors, groundwater limitations, and the loss of ag land. “It’s really a quandary for a lot of people,” he said. “It does try to address a huge environmental problem, but it’s at the potential expense of some more localized environmental problems. It’s one of those very difficult issues.” More frightening, however, is that no one’s really had to review projects such as these ever before. McKenzie has “zero” experience in doing so. “These are the two biggest plants in the world,” he said. “This county is getting to be one of the first folks to deal with it.”

The third project—a solar thermal plant proposed by Australian company Ausra that uses sun power to heat water to turn turbines—is considered more industrial, so it falls under the purview of the California Energy Commission. But even that commission is still getting up to speed with projects of this type. Said its chairperson Karen Douglas, “We’ve got much more experience siting natural-gas plants than siting renewables, both from a staff and commission perspective. So some issues are rising up in the renewables case that are substantively different than what has been the core of the siting work before the solar applications started coming in so quickly.” There are ongoing studies of how to incorporate renewable projects while protecting ecosystems—studies Douglas hopes “will be a model for how we can get this done”—but those are strictly for the Mojave Desert, and currently have no bearing on the Carrizo.

The solar power companies, however, believe the time and location are right. Ausra’s Katherine Potter explained, “There is certainly a good place for distributed generation, but to ensure the reliability of the grid, you do need large-scale power generation.” Added Alan Bernheimer of OptiSolar, which proposed one of the photovoltaic projects (but recently sold to First Solar), “We need all the solar power we can get, both distributed and large-scale. It’s not a question of either/or. It’s both.”

As the solar projects move forward and analysts begin to assess potential impacts to the monument, Mike Strobridge is holding his ground. “At this point, we’re frustrated and doing everything we can to make sure if something does come in, it’s put in responsibly.” And that’s about all anyone else can ask for.

Breathe deep

Amid the debates over solar projects and monument management, one point was uttered by almost every one of the more than 20 people contacted for this article: The Carrizo is not for everyone. “You either get it or you don’t,” exclaimed biologist Gambs. “There is no in-between!” Echoed rancher and former politician Diefenderfer, “I’m not sure what it is, but I do know that in my 65 years of lifetime, everybody I’ve dealt with on the Carrizo Plain, they either love it or they hate it.”

Flat, bleak, dry, and desolate, the region turns off those scared of solitude, those who don’t appreciate the silent stillness, those who aren’t impressed by rare species of plants and animals. But like a good book, those who continue reading the Carrizo will find that its characters are rich, its storyline quite deep, and its value immeasurable. ∆

Matt Kettmann is the senior editor of the Santa Barbara Independent, where this article was first published. Comments can be addressed to econnolly@newtimesslo.com.

As the plan goes to a vote, the Monument shows its Glory!

There is a long article on the Carrizo Plain National Monument about the NM itself, including the flora and fauna and the dangers they face, its Resource Management Plan process, and a history of the monument. It is well worth reading the entire article. Click the link. The article also contains some beautiful photos of the monument.

Anyone reading this post who would like to help get the Department of Interior’s report on the death of Monument Manager Marlene Braun released, please go the Petition Site.
Saving the Silence

Facing Threats from Inside and Out, the Carrizo Plain National Monument Prepares for the Future
Thursday, April 16, 2009
By Matt Kettmann
[This part of the Santa Barbara Independent‘s article gives a little history]:

Soon after the monument was created in 2001, 13-year BLM veteran Marlene Braun was named manager. Having been stationed in Alaska and Nevada, the workaholic Braun finally felt at home on the Carrizo, and took intense pride in protecting it. She scaled back grazing on sensitive grasslands and began developing the monument’s first management plan, which would phase out long-term livestock permits. Every agency signed on, even the BLM’s California office. Then, in March 2004, the Bush administration—which was critical of Clinton’s last-minute monument designations—appointed Ron Huntsinger as Braun’s supervisor in BLM’s Bakersfield field office. With marching orders to favor ranching over preservation and “fix this plan,” Huntsinger and Braun became immediate enemies. The two butted heads repeatedly, so much so that in May 2005, Braun—who had also been dealing with her own psychological demons—arranged her personal affairs and wrote a few important letters about her fears for the Carrizo. She then took a .38 caliber revolver, killed her two dogs—neatly placing their bodies under a quilt—and turned the gun on herself.

Russell Orrell

Retired Cal Poly biology professor Roger Gambs is a member of Friends of the Carrizo Plain, which cares for these resources with the help of BLM staff.

Braun’s suicide shocked the region, resulted in a federal investigation, and eventually led to Huntsinger’s transfer. The management plan was the fourth casualty. “The whole process imploded. It collapsed,” explained Neil Havlik, who was named to the monument’s advisory committee when it was created in 2002. “It was finally decided that the process should start all over again.” Relations soured between the Carrizo staff and the BLM higher-ups. “That trust took time to rebuild,” said Havlik, the City of San Luis Obispo’s natural resources manager, “but it has been rebuilt.” That’s thanks in large part to the appointment of Tim Smith as the BLM field supervisor in Bakersfield, who Havlik called a “really great guy.”

Nearly four years after Braun’s suicide, the current plan reflects her vision. “I am very happy with the plan,” said Havlik, who’s spent much of his last 13 years at the City of S.L.O. protecting open space. “It is setting policies that are progressive, that are going to be responsive to scientific recommendations and input.” Specifically, the plan addresses grazing, mineral extraction, cultural resource protection, wilderness designation, and roads, and has proposed three alternatives that range from more hands-off management to intense involvement. The BLM staff’s preferred alternative is number two, which blends the two more extreme alternatives, encourages a “moderate” expansion of wilderness zones (where no motorized vehicles are allowed), reduces the redundant roadways, only allows grazing for “vegetation management,” stabilizes historic sites, and makes Painted Rock accessible only by permit or tour.

Since BLM is an agency that traditionally allows extractive industries, the management plan does not affect the “valid and existing” mineral rights that cover about 100,000 acres of the monument, including four active wells in the Caliente Range. Any attempt to eliminate those surely would have led to a massive fight, but if a recent response to an oil-drilling proposal is any indication, the monument is in good hands.

Politics as Usual: A Yes-Man Advanced to Head BLM

Mike Pool, the BLM California Director who rejected Marlene Braun’s appeal over her suspension for sending an email to people with whom she worked has now been promoted. Pool, who had approved the Resource Management Plan Braun submitted before her field office Ron Huntsinger arrived quickly changed his tune and began doing what the Bush Administration wanted: helping to get rid of Marlene Braun.

It is more important than ever to get the full Dept. of Interior OIG report released.
News Release

For Release: February 18, 2009
Contact: John Dearing/Jan Bedrosian, 916-978-4610, email: jdearing@ca.blm.gov;
BLM Taps Californian Mike Pool as Acting National Director

Mike Pool, California state director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), has been tapped to serve as the agency’s acting national director in Washington D.C., effective March 1.

Pool, 55, a career veteran, has served more than 34 years with BLM, starting at the field office level and working his way up through a variety of assignments in Alaska, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Washington D.C., and the Department of the Interior.

He has been California state director since 2000, overseeing 15.1 million acres of public lands in California and another 1.5 million in northwestern Nevada. In the new acting position, he will oversee 256 million surface acres – more than any other federal agency. Most of this public land is located in 12 western states, including Alaska.

He replaces current BLM Acting Director Ron Wenker, who will return to his current position as BLM’s Nevada state director. Pool will remain in the new assignment pending selection of a permanent director by new Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. In California, Pool’s Associate State Director Jim Abbott will serve as acting California state director.

“I’m honored by the new assignment and look forward to assisting the new administration care for the public lands under BLM’s jurisdiction,” he said. The 55-year-old Pool, an Arizona native raised in New Mexico, holds a B.S. in wildlife science from New Mexico State University.

RELATED: “Mike Pool, State Director”(BLM-California)
Biography of BLM-California’s state director and new acting national director.

This posting is originally at Daniel Patterson’s blog, from Aug., 2005, and I have reprinted the existing 85 comments:

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Bush favors to mad cowmen lead to BLM suicide

Julie Cart and Maria L. La Ganga of the LA Times report today on a sad story at the Carrizo Plain National Monument in southern California. US Bureau of Land Management Monument Manager, Marlene Braun (below) killed herself after over a year of political harrassment from her boss, Ron Huntsinger.


Bush officials and BLM managers favored continued heavy livestock production on the monument, pushing to rollback conservation and management gains of the last decade, and attacking Braun for doing her duty to protect monument natural resources.


‘She was able to keep the grazing off the bottom land for the last four years. It was an amazing achievement compared to what had happened before it was a monument.’ Irv McMillan, a longtime cattleman and friend of Marlene Braun, seen below.

'An amazing achievement'

The tale of Marlene Braun’s suicide is a sad and angering story of hostile ranchers and government hatchet men attacking public scientists and land managers.

BLM’s Ron Huntsinger, seen below outside his Bakersfield office, should at least be fired, and prosecuted if any of his actions were illegal.


Let his boss, Mike Pool, know your feelings, mpool@ca.blm.gov.
Contact Huntsinger at rhuntsinger@ca.blm.gov.

all photos from latimes.com


At Mon Aug 22, 03:43:00 PM, Blogger eddyhuron20817331 said…
This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Thu Aug 25, 12:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
What! More hate mail from the ranchers?

At Fri Aug 26, 04:34:00 PM, Anonymous Alyssa said…
I note in the article that Braun isn’t antigrazing. What was the boss so crazed about? Were his superiors aware of what he was doing? It seems we need people who are reasonable in the govt, who try to do what’s best for all interests where possible, and it seems like she was doing that. Maybe he has a Napoleon complex?

At Sat Aug 27, 01:55:00 AM, Anonymous Jarett R. said…
This is a sad story. Huntsinger should be accountable. Can he be sued by the family? Will the sheriff arrest him at least for stealing her computer? I guess techically it was theres but not while a death is under investigation, right? Who would do it, the FBI, the sheriff they mentioned? He should be called to account. If he didn’t do anything wrong then an investigation would show that.

At Sun Aug 28, 06:50:00 AM, Anonymous Karl said…
At first I thought this was just another blame Bush admin article. But while the government should step in to investigate this, and probaby ought to have seen what was happening to their own employee if she reported it, it seems like the boss really went overboard on his orders to “fix the plan.” Scary when a zealot gets marching orders against you!

At Tue Aug 30, 04:49:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
State Director
Mike Pool

Associate State Director
Jim Abbott

BLM’s website has been down a while. The email addresses have changed. These are Huntsinger’s superiors. Abbott hired him.

At Tue Aug 30, 04:57:00 AM, Anonymous Anon2 said…
Ron Huntsinger 3801 Pegasus Drive, Bakersfield, CA 93308 661-391-6006

At Tue Oct 04, 04:01:00 PM, Anonymous Curious George said…
Has anything else happened on this case? Has BLM done anything?

At Fri Oct 07, 12:26:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
See the Billings Outpost for Sept. 15. A lot of people are venting there, but there hasn’t been a report by the BLM or anything that I know of. I wrote a letter to Gale Norton, DOI Sec. and it was turfed to a DC BLM office, who said there’s an investigation going on…

At Thu Oct 20, 03:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
For more information there is a recent article in the Bakersfield Californian that says the inspector general is looking into the case. I dont know if this is independent from blm but if so that is a good sign that someone is finally listening. It says that the head of blm ordered the investigation.

At Sun Oct 23, 05:21:00 AM, Anonymous Louise Mohr said…
It looks like the administrative investigation into “personnel issues” at Bakersfield BLM could be just another layer of “we looked into it, but nobody saw anything” if people don’t speak up. I am asking for anyone who knows anything to go on the DOI website to the Office of the Inspector General and leave your information, anonymously is fine. Or call Julie Cart at 1-800-LATimes. She wrote the original article and I am sure she’d be interested in hearing from people who know something. People only have power over us if we accede to it. If we say “stop” and mean it, it will stop.

At Fri Oct 28, 08:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Just found this webpage while searching for information on Marlene and I just had to share. It is a personal website, but very, very informative and helpful. It was created by a Federal government employee who works for BLM in California.

Discrimination & Hostility in the Federal Workplace


At Tue Nov 01, 08:52:00 AM, Anonymous Beth said…
The Wilderness Society published a report saying the Carrizo is in danger of being overgrazed. It singled out the Carrizo as an area in danger. We need to see that this does not happen.

At Mon Nov 14, 06:58:00 AM, Anonymous Mike K. said…

For Release : November 10, 2005
Contact: Ron Huntsinger, (661) 391-6000 or Jan Bedrosian (916) 978-4616

BLM Receives Notice of Lessee’s Intent to Drill in Carrizo Plain National Monument
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has received a formal Notice of Staking (NOS) from an oil and gas operator with a valid existing oil and gas lease on 153 acres of public lands on the southern end of the Carrizo Plain National Monument in San Luis Obispo County.

BLM Bakersfield Field Manager Ron Huntsinger said under BLM regulations, the NOS is the first step in the process to notify the government and public the operator has plans to start activity on the lease. The NOS initiates an official 30-day processing/review period and copies are available from BLM.

In compliance with requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and other Federal laws, BLM will be required to prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) analyzing the environmental impacts of the drilling application.

The lessee, Richard D. Sawyer of Malibu, California, has legally held the lease since 1988 and under Federal regulations has until March 15, 2006 to commence actual drilling operations or the lease will expire. Sawyer has designated Longbow LLC of Bakersfield as the on-the-ground operator for the lease.

When the Carrizo Plain became a National Monument in January 2001 by Presidential Proclamation under the 1906 Antiquities Act, it was withdrawn from new oil and gas leasing, but the Proclamation specifically allowed for exercise of valid existing rights, including drilling under existing oil and gas leases, Huntsinger said. The land involved is located in Wells Canyon, on the very southern end of the Monument in the Caliente Range, just north of State Highway 166 near Cuyama.

Huntsinger stated the EA on the drilling application will be made available to the public as soon as it is completed and a 30-day public comment period is planned. Public comments in response to the NOS and application for permit to drill should be sent to the BLM’s Bakersfield Office, 3801 Pegasus Dr., Bakersfield, Calif. , 93308. Those wishing to receive a copy of the EA when it becomes available can also provide their mailing or email address to BLM.


Bakersfield Field Office – 3801 Pegasus Drive, Bakersfield, CA 93308


At Mon Nov 14, 03:02:00 PM, Anonymous Kyle said…
O great. Now the monument can look like the area between it and Taft, which has to be about the most depressing stretch of land i have ever driven thru. Bet Marlene would not have let this happen. Where’s the new monument manager on this one or is Ron Huntsinger the MM now too? And I am sure they’ll say there’s nothing they can do even when the public complains at the meetings which we will.

At Tue Nov 15, 06:55:00 AM, Anonymous alyssa said…
We can get an Environmental Impact Study, i think it is called. We should have a 90 day comment period on the oil drlling. Check out Sarah Ruby’s article in the Bakersfield Californian on Nov.10. I am not real sure how to do this but I am going to call the sierra club.

At Tue Nov 15, 11:34:00 PM, Blogger S. F. Larson said…
Cool your jets, folks! Much of what you read about Marlene’s death is wrong. Nearly all of the information you have read is mis-information. Notice that the LA Times article had virtually no information from those who worked with Marlene in BLM. A balanced story wouldn’t have been nearly as compelling. Note that all of the other supportive comments on websites from those who knew Marlene are from her friends – who got their information from her. And nearly everything else that is posted on websites is from people who are reacting to the above sources.

I observed that Marlene abused employees – short and simple. Although she had caused significant problems for past supervisors, Ron Huntsinger tried to turn things around. I personally saw him try to work with her to harness her significant talent, and then apply progressive discipline as she rebelled. I have heard several of her co-workers say that everything she accused Huntsinger of, she was guilty of herself!

Marlene did everything she could to make it look like Huntsinger was out to get her, and that this battle was over grazing or environmental beliefs. She succeeded in this deception. As God is my witness, that is pure, unadulterated, 100% bullshit.

The Carrizo Plain National Monument exists because of the BLM. When it was private farmland, the idea of a natural preserve was conceived by a BLM employee. BLM then enlisted the help of The Nature Conservancy and later the Calif Department of Fish and Game to make it happen. Nearly all of the BLM personnel currently responsible for the management of the Carrizo Plain have been here for years and they deserve much of the credit for making it the treasure it is today. They are not going to stand by and see it destroyed! (Note that many, many people in TNC, Fish & Game, USF&WS, BLM and elsewhere share credit to varying degrees!)

Grazing is a contentious issue, and it always will be. Did you know that The Nature Conservancy was the dominant grazing permittee in Carrizo for many years? Did you know that the majority (as best as I can tell) of non-BLM independent experts on the endangered species in Carrizo believe that ending grazing would be detrimental to, and perhaps jeopardize the existence of those endangered species? Did you know that much of the criticism of grazing is from people who are unknowingly – by advocating the removal of cattle – agitating to jeopardize T&E species so that introduced elk and antelope herds can be increased so that the Dept of Fish and Game can increase the number of hunting permits to kill more of them? If any of that is news to you, then I suggest that maybe the grazing issue has some complexities you were unaware of.

Many people/companies have the legal right to drill for oil or gas in the Carrizo Plain National Monument – and no federal agency can legally stop them. Don’t blame Huntsinger for this – he has nothing to do with that dilemma. As to the proposed oil well mentioned in other posts, do not despair. In my opinion – this current proposal has little chance of ever proceeding. By all means, keep an eye on it – but don’t lose sleep over it yet.

The Carrizo Plain National Monument is in good hands – the same hands that made it what it is today. Don’t talk about BLM and spread rumors – talk with BLM and help to make Carrizo all it can be!

At Wed Nov 16, 11:07:00 AM, Anonymous gary namie said…
The Marlene Braun suicide story intrigues me because its a textbook illustration of an over-the-top supervisor bully. From the start his assignment in the Bakersfield office, he loathed Marlene.

She was competent and highly principled. For her, BLM was not just a government job with benefits. The professionals who worked with her as external partners saw the campaign of hatred mounted by the untalented Huntsinger, a man described as a drone by his former boss. She was probably too good to work for BLM.

Interesting that the intelligent contributor Larson explains in detail BLM’s positions but nonchalantly discounts the departed Braun as an abuser herself.

Here again is the automatic response by bully apologists that the targeted individuals either deserved their fate or were bullies themselves. Larson takes every opportunity to denigrate Marlene. He must have been VERY threatened by her when working side by side. Or is Larson the Brutus who betrayed her by escalating Huntsinger’s anti-Braun campaign by forwarding to Huntsinger an e-mail she meant to be read only by external partners. In that message, she countered a Huntsinger lie with facts.

We see now how paranoid, incompetent government operatives attack those who dare to challenge their managerial rights to lie and distort at the highest levels. Braun dared to reveal Huntsinger for the boob he was. For that she paid with her life. She did not have to die, but she must not have seen any alternatives.

Buffoons like Huntsinger need to surround themselves with sycophants like Larson who assassinate those who dare to speak truths. My question of Larson is how do you sleep at night knowing what you do to Marlene’s memory? Have you no shame?

Gary Namie, Ph.D.
Workplace Bullying & Trauma Institute

The fuller Braun suicide story can is found at


At Wed Nov 16, 09:44:00 PM, Anonymous Sarah said…
Thank god for people like Gary Namie and people who really know Marlene who speak the truth and counteract low life’s like Steve Larson. Nice try by Steve Larson to put the spin on it, but Steve is the one “full of pure, unadulterated, 100% bullshit.” Anyone who saw what Marlene went through can testify to that. Maybe its guilt driving him to stoop so low and spit on her grave…or maybe he does this on taxpayer time per Ron’s direction…..and yes he was the person who forwarded the email to Ron in a successful attempt to feed the harassment. As a fellow employee, I personally witnessed Marlene’s torment with her boss and listened to her describe the repeated verbal assaults and humiliation that he put her through. I didn’t realize at the time that Larson must have been so involved in the destruction as well-he sure had revealed his true colors. Thanks to thugs like Steve, Marlene is now DEAD…..how dare he reference God’s name. Steve Larson has much to gain with his loyalty to his boss. Hard to believe he is currently the assistant director of the BLM-Bakersfield region. He can be reached at slarson@ca.blm.gov (661) 391-6099.

At Thu Nov 17, 05:58:00 AM, Anonymous Kathy Hermes, Trustee of Marlene Braun said…
Recently an article in the San Luis Obispo New Times by John Peabody came out (Nov. 17, 2005). It adds to and updates the LA Times story posted here by Daniel R. Patterson. One can link to it at http://www.newtimesslo.com.

Mr. Larson’s email is, as Dr. Namie points out, that of a person clearly threatened by Marlene, but I am not sure if that threat is greater in life or in death. Of the 5 people called to be interviewed by the California State Director’s office for the Management Review (aka the independent internal investigation that has now been supplanted by the Office of the Inspector General’s investigation), Mr. Larson was one. If one is unquestioning, his email seems reasonable enough, but I have questions. How was the LA Times supposed to get comments from the people Marlene worked with when the State Office directed all inquiries to Jan Bedrosian, th epress agent in Sacramento? Employees of the Bakersfield Office and the Carrizo did not respond to requests for interviews, except for one, whose comment appears in the article. Huntsinger himself promised to take the reporters on a tour of the Carrizo and never did. He has refused every attempt to interview him. The LA Times did interview friends and colleagues of his and reported their favorable impressions of him. This to me seems balanced. Why is Mr. Larson unhappy with the press when they have repeatedly tried to make contact and get the full story? It simply is not true that only Marlene’s friends have been interviewed. When I was interviewed by Julie Cart she told me there was every chance I would not like what I might read; that she was going to report the news. I had enough faith in Marlene’s own story to know that an objective report would not bother me. Marlene had faults. Marlene was also a marvelous human being.

This is not the first time a BLM manager has alleged abuse on the part of Marlene toward others. I didn’t work with Marlene, so I can’t say. I know some people did not like her. They found it stressful to work with her. I know others who speak very highly of her. But I do not know of any EEO complaints against her and if she were abusing employees and this was known to Mr. Huntsinger or to Mr. Larson at the time then they ought to have done something about it. (Could this be rumors circulating now instead of observations back then?) I don’t believe it’s true, but if it is, then shame on the upper management for not taking care of it. But Marlene did not receive her suspension for the way she treated other employees. She received it for an email correcting Mr. Huntsinger’s factual error ragarding rules and a plan with which he was supposed to be familiar.

Mr. Larson also says BLM is responsible for the fact that there is a monument. BLM, the Nature Conservancy and the California Dept. of Fish and Game are partners in that monument, and Mr. Huntsinger removed the Monument Manager (remember her–Marlene?) from interacting with the partners. Marlene worked for BLM and was a GS-13. It truly confounds me that Marlene is perceived as an enemy of BLM when she worked for them for 12 years, 11 of which were good years for her. She did not seek jobs with other agencies in the Fed. Govt or with outside environmental groups. A GS-13, for those who don’t know, is very high up in the ranks. Mr. Huntsinger is a GS-14. Marlene was just one step below him in rank.

Mr. Larson also makes the claim that Marlene accused Huntsinger of things she was guilty of herself, as if this means (ha!ha!) she got what she deserved. But then he also implies shooting herself was some sort of plot to bring Huntsinger down. She SHOT HERSELF IN THE HEAD. One does not to this to “retaliate” against someone else. That is such a twisted idea! If she wanted to “get” Huntsinger she could have just filed an EEO complaint and moved on. She said in a dying declaration (her suicide note) that Huntsinger made her life utterly unbearable. But this was to me. Marlene didn’t tell me to talk to the LA Times about it. Or ask the OIG to investigate. Her friends and I are seeking justice but Marlene didn’t believe there could be any. Her friends and I have hope, something she did not.

And finally, Mr. Larson, I have spoken with BLM–the part of BLM that worked with Marlene and not against her. They came to pay me condolences and sent cards to her family. They offered help. But Ron Huntsinger never made a single phone call to me or to her family, nor did you, nor any other upper manager at BLM. Mike Pool wrote letters of condolence to her elderly mother and her uncle after I asked him to, because Huntsinger, the field office supervisor, her direct supervisor, never did. He did not lift a finger to help her after seeing her suicide letter to BLM (can your 5 year-olds, dear readers, dial 911, because apparently Mr. Huntsinger cannot) and if he cared at all that one of BLM’s employees killed herself, he certainly never said so to anyone close to her.

I am not anti-BLM. Neither was Marlene. Multiple land use conservation is a different mandate than preservation, and it can work. But it isn’t working now, at the Carrizo, on so many levels. That needs to change. And we are indeed working for that!

At Thu Nov 17, 10:02:00 AM, Anonymous Ben F. said…
“The Carrizo Plain National Monument is in good hands – the same hands that made it what it is today.”
Um, pardon my ignorance, but isn’t one of the hands missing because she shot herself? And didn’t she manage the monument? Aren’t there more pronghorn and kit foxes now than before she was monument manager? I give Bob Stafford et al their credit in making that happen (see LATimes recent article on the pronghorn) but the monument is not in the same hands. It is in dangerous hands.

At Fri Nov 18, 12:36:00 AM, Anonymous Sutton Edlich said…
SF Larson,

Because of the nature of this forum, I am unable to tell the identity of the person behind your entry. If it is Mr. Larson of BLM Bakersfield, I will quite agreeably share my more elaborated thoughts with you. This entry of yours will be, as far as I am aware, the first time that anyone within BLM management responded publicly in any way to Marlene’s death other than the prodded letter of condolence to Mrs. Braun and family that Dr. Hermes mentions in her entry. I will at this time, however, respond to your posted text.

While it is true that Marlene’s friends, which includes me, know of the activities within BLM Bakersfield and in Carrizo throughout her entire tenure there from beginning to end, through Marlene’s words both written and spoken, it is not true that we only know of events through Marlene’s words. We have spoken at length to TNC employees, CA Fish and Game employees, experts in work-place abuses, and outside on-lookers, as well as some BLM Bakersfield employees who were kind enough to express their sadness for our loss when we visited Carrizo shortly after Marlene died. Marlene had an extensive network of professional contacts who have been willing to share their understanding of the events from well before and leading up to Marlene’s death.

Your description of Marlene, which matches every one that I have seen posted by anyone claiming to represent BLM Bakersfield, represents her as a talented but undisciplined, rebellious adolescent, needing the firm guiding hand of a more rational, controlled (i.e., male), calmer mind, or perhaps more concretely by your words, as a horse, or cattle befitting your bovine scatological vocabulary: what was needed was to “turn things around”, her talents needed “harnass”, one needs to “apply progressive discipline”, yet alas, she “rebelled”. It really is hard to take this sort of thing too seriously, were it not for the concerted effort of those claiming to represent BLM Bakersfield utilizing similar vocabulary and imagery. You do not seek what is true, SF Larson, you seek the cowboy myth on the frontier.

Marlene’s ongoing complaints against Mr. Huntsinger were not portrayed within the context of grazing rights versus philosophical environmentalism. Marlene hardly spoke of grazing issues at all. The boys club which believed in estranging Carrizo partners, in clandestinely altering the RMP, and removing the construction of BLM policy from the public view may have had and still might have grazing on the brain, but Marlene was concerned about work-place abuse, the callous assault on the integrity of her career, and repugnant but politically opportune efforts to misrepresent her talents, character, and contributions to BLM.

If TNC were ideological instead of diplomatic, it would legally and justifiably rip the grazing leases from BLM’s gloves, leaving more time for the practice of vacuous, feel-good, travel-guide historiography.

We do sincerely wish that BLM employees would speak, especially those Bakersfield managers and those within the BLM State Office who chose the tactics they did to attempt to remove Marlene from her Manager position so as to have free reign to craft the RMP to their progressive-disciplined liking. However, thus far they have all remained silent, unless this is the first, albeit unsatisfactory, attempt. The press has, in my opinion, been excessive in their attempt to portray the silent side, which only speaks when it wishes to condescend, as God is your witness.

At Fri Nov 18, 09:38:00 AM, Anonymous Kathy Hermes said…
Drilling is not the only thing going on. The Carrizo Advisory Committee for the monument expires in December and Ron Huntsinger is the one in charge of receiving nominations. See the Federal Register:

It is clear that the California BLM is not going to avoid conflicts of interest in this case or curtail Huntsinger’s duties as Alternative Disputer Resolution rep or stop him from stacking the Advisory Committee.

At Sat Nov 19, 08:36:00 AM, Anonymous Jason said…
Back in August 2005 land was transferred from Dept of Energy to BLM in the Caliente Range. Under Huntsinger’s watch, but not because of him alone, BLM is getting more of the gas/oil business and what S.F. Larson says about “not to worry” is kind of hard to take seriously. Will the next Advisory Committee be oil and cattle men/women who want rights to the land. Currently a US house bill is proposing selling of public lands at $1500 an acre if you explore for mineral rights. But if you don’t find any minerals you can build a condo complex. This bill hasn’t passed the senate and let’s all hope it doesn’t. Truth is, the Bush admin is not friendly to the environment and even my republican friends admit that and most are really upset about it. I am independent and have voted both ways, but hey, I care about the environment. I also don’t like what I hear is going on with bullying, and while none of this may be proven yet, there is enough evidence to suggest that Huntsinger for one crossed the line. So I would definitely email your reps on this one and tell them it has to stop. Just go to http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm. Really this is IMPORTANT.

At Tue Nov 22, 09:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
O, The Oprah MagazineO, The Oprah Magazine is ready to take action against sexual harassment in the workplace. So if you think you have a case (and you live in the U.S.), we want to hear about it. Your submissions will be reviewed by a team of legal experts headed by Harriet Posner of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP?she is one of Top 50 Women Litigators in California?who will arrange pro bono representation for a few selected cases. The magazine will report on what happens as these cases progress. Interested?

Step One: Please read this definition of sexual harassment and if your situation applies, continue on.

DEFINITION OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT: Sexual harassment is any abusive or offensive treatment that happens simply because of a person’s sex or gender.

Sexual harassment can be unwelcome sexual advances, innuendoes, touches, or comments. Sexual harassment can be subtle?it isn’t just lewd comments and vulgar gestures; it can also be romantic overtures after you’ve told the harasser you aren’t interested, or offensive materials on display in the workplace.
Sexual harassment can also be mistreatment that is not sexual in nature, but is directed only at one sex, for example, when a woman enters an all male working environment and is mistreated simply because she is a woman.
Sexual harassment can be treatment that creates a “quid pro quo” (where your employer makes accepting the abuse a condition of your employment and threatens to fire or demote you if you don’t) or it can be treatment that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.


At Sat Nov 26, 09:09:00 AM, Anonymous Gus Schlarmann said…
I raise elk on a small ranch and although I live on the plains and not in the west, I have many friends who lease land from the BLM. I have been reading things on various websites. What gets to me when I read this stuff is that this young lady clearly did not kill herself over ranching but over bullying. As a man in my 60s I have to admit I was thinking she must be not all right mentally and my wife set me straight. She said being screamed at and humiliated for long periods can make a person depressed and reminded me about her own boss that she worked for before we were married. She worked as a nurse and this one doctor was always screaming, more than others and in a mean way, not just in the way doctors do when they are in a hurry. I remembered how jittery she got and she’d cry for no reason. She said if I hadn’t been there she might have killed herself. I did not know this before and we have been married 41 years. So this story has really made me think about the harm this is doing by keeping this boss. He is hurting people and he isn’t helping BLM by doing this. I hope the BLM does something about this. I don’t believe this is the way they want their operation run but maybe they are afraid if they can this guy they will look bad. You’ll look worse if you don’t, guys. And I hope all this stuff about oil drilling is not going to be true. I have enjoyed the west for many years as a place where I vacation and hunt and hike and I don’t believe it ought to be ruined for oil. I just bought a hybrid SUV because I still need a truck and it is actually great. We can cut back as a country and not mess up this beautiful land we have been given.

At Sun Nov 27, 10:51:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
I’m a federal employee who works in California for USDA Forest Service, and much to my chagrin, I’ve only heard of Marlene Braun’s torment today.
I can’t help but conclude that Marlene was morally wrong to kill herself in several planes of morality, but I do understand her pain, and it kind of scares me to read such things.
I’ve been subject to harrassment of this type for nearly two decades in varying degrees; in fact I did go through so-called “mediation”, and although it did reduce the documentable harrassment somewhat, many of us in federal land management are being killed by a thousand tiny cuts, whether it be outright manipulation of data, disregard for policy, law, regulation, or sheer indifference and lack of support from higher-ups.
Unfortunately, there are more Ron Huntsingers out there.
I’m so, so sorry that Marlene made such a horrible choice to make her point, but it is so, so easy to understand how she got there. Gus Schlarman’s comments at the bottom of these posts is very eloquent in describing how a type of “values/desire homicide” is being carried out on many of us in federal service.
As for myself, I keep hoping the 06 mid-term elections drive some points home, and I just hope to outlive the bastards, but even that seems to be faint hope. I’ve been in federal service for 27 years and for the first time I’m seriously thinking of leaving. I chose to be a federal employee as a way of paying back what I thought to be a great and wonderful country, and I’ve literally given blood, sweat and tears. I hope that I’ve made a least a few small good differences, but there is a powerful and palpable evil in the upper levels of our government.
Sorry for dragging on so long about these things. If there’s anything good about Marlene’s suicide, maybe it’s that it brings these discussions out.

At Thu Dec 01, 04:45:00 PM, Anonymous Gus said…
Anyone see this: NEW YORK TIMES
NATIONAL | December 1, 2005
A Strategy to Restore Western Grasslands Meets With Local Resistance
A group says agreements by which ranchers in the West sold off their grazing rights will hurt ranching in the end.

At Fri Dec 02, 03:17:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
My friend and I have a bully boss. We work in a mall in Delaware and she was telling me about all these bullying sites and this woman Marlene. She said our boss is a Ron Huntsinger. I had to look him up. This is about right. My friend got a reprimand the other day, her second. One more and she’ll be out. This because she told the customer the truth about one of our products as it would have applied to the customer. My friend wasnt dissing the company. I have been told that I am too mean to work with because I told a girl to get off the phone with her boyfriend. The next day I am the good employee, but only when my friend is on the bad side. I guess a lot of people have Huntsingers. I just cant believe this girl killed herself! I dont know about any of this grazing stuff or what an OIG is but if its true he didn’t call for help or anything then the guy is a little sick.

At Sat Dec 03, 06:44:00 AM, Anonymous K. Hermes said…
“November 21, 2005

“The Board of Directors of the Sierra Club last week awarded a special commendation to the late Marlene Braun, who managed the Carrizo Plain National Monument in eastern San Luis Obispo County from the time of its proclamation by President Clinton in 2001 until her death last May.

“Noting that ‘the Monument contains the last significant intact San Joaquin Valley grasslands and is the home of one of the highest concentrations of threatened and endangered species in the nation,’ the Sierra Club commended Braun for opening ‘a new chapter in the cooperative management of the area by the Bureau of Land Management, The Nature Conservancy, and the California Department of Fish and Game. She embraced, nourished, and encouraged the partnership and reached out to a broad spectrum of the public. Grazing on the valley floor was minimized under her watch, and the numbers of pronghorn, giant kangaroo rats, kit foxes, and native plant species increased as a result. Her dedication and commitment to the Carrizo inspired those who were honored to know and work with her.’

“Braun, a career employee of the Bureau of Land Management, was known to feel deeply about, and fight tenaciously for, meaningful conservation of the Carrizo Plain. She took to heart the Monument’s management plan, which only allows grazing as a management tool for the benefit of native species, and consequently ran up against the status quo within the Bureau and the cattle industry. At the time of her death, she was struggling to ensure that the new, yet to be released Resource Management Plan—the document for guiding future management decisions on Carrizo—would not be rooted in the paradigm of managing public lands for economic return rather than conservation.

“When Braun committed suicide in May, she left behind detailed notes and correspondence that documented the punitive conditions she was working under at the BLM and the abuses she suffered in the workplace. Subsequent investigative journalism by the Los Angeles Times illuminated the pressures brought to bear on her by BLM management as a result of her determined conservation efforts.

“’In the short time that Marlene was with us on the Carrizo, she made a huge impact on the lives of the untold thousands of native plants and animals that depend on this last natural remnant of the San Joaquin for their survival,’ said Bruce Hamilton, Sierra Club’s National Conservation Director. ‘In the face of extreme pressure and against the odds, she fought for what is right. The Sierra Club and others will continue that fight in her name and on behalf of the land she sought to protect.’”

At Sat Dec 03, 07:35:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Justice John Paul Stevens, agreeing with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sandra Day O’Connor and David Souter, said he found it odd that employees who go to the press to report wrongdoing are more protected under the First Amendment than those who make internal claims.

Stephen Kohn, chairman of the National Whistleblower Center, said more than 90 percent of whistle-blower cases start and end in the workplace. He said throughout history, Congress and the courts have routinely erred on the side of protecting speech “of public concern.”

“What’s really troubling is that if the Supreme Court does not protect the employee,” Kohn said, “it will be the first time in American history that speech of public concern has lost constitutional protection.”

(anonymous said): The press is the only answer so it seems lately.


At Mon Dec 05, 08:10:00 AM, Anonymous Joe said…
Marlene was a very nice person I have known since I was a kid. I read an article in the Los Angeles Times today, Dec. 5, 2005, that says a lot about Dr. Namie who has responded to this blog and his institute. It doesn’t mention Marlene but it is worth reading, because you see how much is going on. It really shows people don’t know how to communicate with each other or be civil and then it escalates to threats and screaming. I only know secondhand what happened to Marlene but no one should have to be yelled at, humiliated, or intimidated, and that seems to be what happened to her. I know some people at BLM say that is a lie, but if Marlene said it in her letter I believe it. She was a real honest person, very kind too. I recommend this article.

At Sat Dec 10, 07:55:00 AM, Anonymous Loyal Fed but Unhappy in CA said…
As a federal employee I have started hearing rumors about an EEO complaint in Redding in the BLM Field Office and some retaliation against women who filed complaints. I hope some news media is checking into this, as I suspect it is true. I don’t work for BLM but DOI has a reputation for not liking employees to complain and they hit back.

At Mon Dec 12, 08:03:00 AM, Anonymous reclamation employee said…
Those rumors are true, redding land manager’s wife works up here at reclamation in the shasta dam visitor center and I had heard her slander those women.

People should have known who they talked to and talked about before they opened their mouth. Those women at the land manager office have more support than they think, they are highly respected and very well liked in this large community.

I heard that money for the french gulch fire was abused and the land managers went on a shopping spree.

I hope this gets looked into and I hope those land managers get fired along with the land manager in bakersfield.

Enough is enough.

At Sun Dec 18, 09:04:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Another problem
by KF at 2005/12/16 23:42:16 US/Mountain
I feel for Marlene and her plight, and for her family and friends that so deeply feel her loss. I too have worked for BLM for many years and have found it to be a great place to work. There are good managers and there are bad managers. There are good employees and there are bad employees. Although I didn’t know Marlene or her supervisor, it sounds like it was a mix of a dedicated employee and a bad manager… an unfortunate blend. I have never witnessed BLM managers bullying (not saying it doesn’t happen) but I have been very aware that many employees that complain about their managers (EEO complaints, whistle blowing, retaliation claims, grievances, etc) are just looking for a person to blame for their own inability to perform or they have a general problem with authority. The laws are there to protect employees and to root out bad managers. I would just encourage people to use the law appropriatly, otherwise more and more of us (or “them”) will continue to see the complainers as a bunch of whiners.

If there were fewer whiners (false claims of inappropriate activities) then more attention and action could be given to real problems, as it appears Marlene’s was. In my opinion the whiners that clog the system with malicious, false claims have to share the blame with the bad managers.

At Mon Dec 19, 07:01:00 AM, Anonymous C.P.M. said…
The “us” and “them” is precisely the problem. Bullying can happen to YOU! Marlene was a manager, and not a whiner. She fought hard for her staff and “complained” that her budget was not enough. But she did not complain about the abuse, except to try to get mediation through proper channels. Complaining, moreover, isn’t whining. She didn’t tell anyone at BLM who was working under her supervision that she was being bullied. She was thinking of her staff.

KF says he/she feels Marlene’s case was a genuine case. Many at Bakersfield BLM do not (while others of us disagree). People need to listen when others complain, not merely shrug them off as whiners. As someone trained in mediation, I have learned that when some people complain, there is a root to the problem they aren’t telling you, and you can resolve the issue if you find out what that is. Sometimes, though, what is going on is very deep, hard to explain, the people being subject to the harassment are beginning to sound stressed and illogical from the pressure, and in a lack of willingness to pursue investigations, those in charge throw up their hands. It isn’t us and them. Managers as well as staff can be bullied. Everyone has someone above him or her. We need to stop labeling people whiners. It’s a cop out. There are people who malinger and want sympathy, and we all know who they are. It actually isn’t too hard to figure that out. But even they ought to be listened to, because like the boy who cried wolf, sometimes there is a wolf.

At Mon Dec 19, 08:35:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Definitions of a WHINER;

A person given to excessive complaints and crying and whining.
An affected, thin and ingratiating nasal tone of voice.
A person, especially a child, who complains or expresses dissatisfaction continually.

Definitions of a WIMP;

A person who lacks confidence, is irresolute and wishy-washy.
A weakly, interacting massive particle, WIMP
A hypothetical subatomic particle of large mass that interacts weakly
with ordinary matter through gravitation;
postulated as a constituent of the dark matter of the universe.

Definition of a Winner;

That’s the women or men that are in the lead when the power shuts
off at the end of the race.
Someone who gives 100% of their effort in preparation for and during competition.

Definition of an Introvert & Extrovert;

A person who tends to shrink from social contacts and to become preoccupied with their own thoughts.
The terms Introvert and Extrovert (spelled Extravert by Carl Jung), were originally employed by Sigmund Freud and given significant amplification later by Jung. The terms refer to “attitudes” and show how a person orients and receives their energy. In the Extraverted attitude the energy flow is outward, and the preferred focus is on people and things, whereas in the Introverted attitude the energy flow is inward, and the preferred focus
is on thoughts and ideas.

I am not quite sure I understand where KF is coming from.
Is he/she referring to Marlene’s situation in the Bakersfield BLM or the ladies in the Redding BLM office?
Regardless, this might put things in perspective;
“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, there could be alot of blank pages missing
if you don’t read it carefully.”

At Tue Dec 20, 07:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Information was found below on a website. This is the Federal process and what they came up with. Since the case is now out of Federal hands a civil suit can be filed in state court which I heard is being done. Read article below;

A former Bureau of Land Management supervisor and field manager in Hollister, Calif., was fined and was sentenced to three years probation for using his government charge card to obtain nearly $18,000 in federal funds for personal use.

Robert E. Beehler, 57, was ordered to pay full restitution and was fined $5,000 for his theft and cover-up scheme.

From early 2000 through July 2003, Beehler used the government charge cards and checks drawn on his charge card account to make personal purchases totaling at least $17,939, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California. Beehler made the checks payable to family members and others, and forged endorsements of them, the attorney’s office said.

Beehler would then submit fraudulent vouchers claiming that the funds were for legitimate purchases.

The case was investigated by the Interior Department’s Inspector General Office and was prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Michelle Rodriguez.

Beehler’s actions were “unfortunate,” said John Dearing, a spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management. He would not comment further on the situation other than to say that the agency has always trained employees on proper use of credit cards.

“We’ve had ethics training, particularly for upper management, on what can or can’t be done,” Dearing said. “[The training] is for their own information and also so that they can have oversight over their own employees. And of course we do audits on the system.”

At Tue Dec 20, 07:37:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

At Tue Dec 20, 07:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

Steve Anderson, assistant field manager of the Albuquerque district of the BLM, was expected to be on hand to present his side of the story. No stranger to a hostile crowd, he backed out at the last minute because of an e-mail circulated by an LPA member that “stacked the deck against whatever the BLM might have to say.”

LPA member and former BLM employee Bill Dunmire said he did not believe that recent developments came from upper levels of the Department of Interior. Rather, he suspected that they were the work of certain “rogue elephants” in the district office. Questions and comments brought out several conspiracy theories involving expanded gravel mining, residential development, and even the dreaded loop road.

At Wed Dec 21, 07:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
by KF at 2005/12/21 00:34:45 US/Mountain
Where am I coming from? All I’m saying is , employees need to police themselves better and report cases that truly need investigation. I am aware of cases currently and in the past where the employee just was “out to get” the boss for a fill-in-the-blank reason. It wasn’t harrassment or anything similar but was a way to accomplish character asassination and bring caos to the organization. I’ve witnessed it. I am not saying that the agency should not investigate but I am saying that the inappropriate complaints are a malignancy in the system that tends to deny credibility to the serious issues that ARE out there. I am not advocating management taking a role in tossing out the Whiners complaints. I AM saying that all of us need to discourage malicious claims with no merit so that the serious ones will receive the proper level of attention. And, yes, I would say that the claims in Redding, based on my information, are bogus, totally without merit, and the claimants are childish, immature and seeking revenge for a personal issue.

At Thu Dec 22, 07:34:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Nut Cases
by Dot at 2005/12/21 01:17:12 US/Mountain
In the Redding situation you need to consider the sources. They are NOT highly respected in town. One of the twins has filed grievances at her last 2 places of employment and tried to extort $ from both. See a pattern here? They are both psychotic, manipulative, spoiled brats. They are 40+ years old, both live at home with their parents and have no life. Since their world is so small everything is an issue. Their only source of excitement in their life is to create problems so they can feel important. I really don’t dislike them but I do pitty them. It is truly sad. My moles say that the local BLM employees, their peers, have discounted them as “nuts”. They have cost the Govt well over $100,000 due to the false claims. Shame, shame, shame.

At Thu Dec 22, 10:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
by Mary Anne Hinkle, Missoula at 2005/12/22 05:38:50 US/Mountain
I read with interest the comments by K.F. and some others. This column began as a story about a woman who took her life, perhaps bullied by her boss. I read about it, and my mind was not made up until I saw the vicious attacks a few of her co-managers/workers made on various sites. She was labeled a gun collector, a veteran (all implying she was psycho as these things were supposed to have made her postal), a mentally ill person who wouldn’t take her medicine (gee, how many people know other people’s medicine-taking rituals?), etc. Now we see that the women in the Redding office are labeled nut cases, whiners, spoiled, etc. Bob Beehler, who was actually convicted of wrongdoing, seems to have given an excuse that he was unaware of what he was doing. But no one has called him unstable or nuts, despite the fact that you have to be a little nuts to steal from the government on a credit card and a bit unstable to think you can get away with it. So of all the people we have heard about on this blog, Marlene and the women in Redding(apparently two of them are twins?)are whackos, but the managers are all rational. These kind of attacks turn my stomache. They are unassailable by those accused of instablilty, because Marlene is dead and cannot defend herself, and the women in Redding, if I understand right, are in a lawsuit. So they probably can’t talk about it. And by identifying twins, the writer is naming them without naming them, but not naming himself or herself. And K.F. says, “If what I have heard is true…” What if it isn’t? Are you in Redding and so these are personal observations, or are you not? Are you in Bakerfield? I hope everyone gets their day in court. Maybe then we will see who’s nuts and who’s not.

At Thu Dec 22, 10:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Sounds to me like you, KF, are doing some whining yourself. You mention claims in the Redding office, to me that means more than one person is complaining, when more than one complains there is probably a good reason to do so, I wouldn’t call it whining, I would call it something that might need to be corrected by the person the complaint is about. I worked in a USDA Office and I know firsthand there is sometimes very good reason to complain about management when the management is throwing their authority around. I always thought that people working in a service oriented workplace should have common goals to make that workplace run smoothly.

At Thu Jan 05, 09:29:00 AM, Anonymous Cora said…
Remember this original post? It was about Marlene and the struggle to save the CPNM from over-grazing, the very preventable tragedy of her suicide, and Huntsinger’s unwillingness to try to work with his monument manager as a professional. None of that has disappeared as an issue. The OIG continues to investigate, I think, the Bakersfield and Redding Offices for personnel issues, but the attacks on the environment continue. Pombo and Crapo (yes, his real name) are at it again with attacks on the endangered species act, and CPNM is the home of more endangered species of animals and plants than just about anywhere in America. Stories of corruption and bribery in Hollister, CA and Farmington, NM may take center stage, and indeed some of the same men who have overseen the fraud in one place may have been transferred and promoted in another. Why is fraud garnering more interest in the DOI than an unnecessary death by a GS13 driven to it by her boss who continues to be an ADR rep, continues to be lauded by DOI, given new projects in Cooperative Conservation, works freely on the Carrizo as if nothing happened there in May, 2005? Don’t lose hope, but keep focused! CPNM needs to be protected from drilling, from grazing, from assaults on the Endangered Species Act and from Ron Huntsinger.

At Mon Jan 16, 12:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
BLM Management
by NMI at 2006/01/15 12:20:16 US/Mountain
Lord help us. With as many vacancies as they have at BLM California, I hope that doesn’t mean CA BLM will be hiring this Ralph Mason character any time soon!

That’s usually what BLM Management does. They just move their problem Managers/Supervisors around within the state, or with other BLM offices in another state if things are really bad. They never fire them…I’m sure this Ron H person in Bakersfield is one of those “transfers”.

I was a former CA BLM supervisor and know first hand how they “take care of their own when they want to”. They would rather deal with dozens of greviences and lose 50 employees over a period of time than to admit they hired someone who should be fired! And if you’re the one who is bringing up the issues and pointing out the problem Manager, supervisor or not, YOU become the problem..not the Manager. Then hang on to your horses, cause they will come after you. Marlene found out the length of which they will go and how far up the chain this insanity goes!

Duck & cover, smoke and mirrors. Now you know why CA BLM employees have a union! I feel sorry for the mid-level management like Marlene who are stuck in the middle and have very little recourse against the bullying that goes on. Fear, reprisal and intimidation become every day occurences if you’re not a team player.

My condolences to her family and friends.

At Tue Jan 17, 10:38:00 AM, Anonymous WATCHDOG said…

Bakersfield Californian, The (CA){PUBLICATION2}

January 14, 2006
Section: Local
Page: b5

BLM wants to know what you think of opening up land to oil exploration

The Bakersfield Californian
Now’s the time to speak up about the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s plan to open 2,532 acres near Taft to oil and gas exploration. The land is part of Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 2, which the federal government gave to the BLM in August to stimulate domestic energy production.

About a quarter of the reserve’s 10,451 acres are unexplored. Before leasing plots, BLM must say how it will balance endangered species with its goal of tapping energy reserves, among other management concerns.

“As far as we know it shouldn’t be controversial because with … the way lands in that area have been managed,” said Ron Huntsinger, manager of the BLM field office in Bakersfield.

BLM wants to use an existing plan, known as the Caliente Resource Management Plan, to manage the land. The public has a month to comment on this strategy.

The property sits beyond Taft’s oil fields in western Kern.

The Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 2 was set up in 1912 to protect emergency oil supplies in case of crisis.

The BLM has to study the land before deciding how many plots to lease. Once it does, it will open them up to bidders.

State Director
Mike Pool

Associate State Director
Jim Abbott

At Fri Jan 20, 07:18:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Someone wrote in the Billings Outpost blog that people should contact this gentlemen below. I wanted to let all of you know that Greg is a BLM Law Enforcement Ranger in the Bakersfield BLM Office.

He is not an independent investigator.

Here is his address at the BLM Bakersfield Office from a news article. At this point I wouldn’t trust anyone in the BLM.

Contact: BLM Acting Ranger Greg Aumann at (661) 391-6008 or write: USDI BLM 3801 Pegasus Drive Bakersfield, CA 93308 Attn: Greg Aumann

At Sun Jan 22, 06:56:00 PM, Anonymous factman said…
Mr. Aumann was the law enforcement officer who was sent on the drive from Bakersfield to the Carrizo with Asst. Field Office Manager John Skibinski by Ron Huntsinger. Mr. Aumann and Mr. Skibinski eventually notified BLM’s Dispatch in Porterville that there might be a suicide at the Goodwin Ranch, but they were already into their drive when they called it in. Mr. Aumann does not normally report to Mr. Huntsinger, if memory serves.

At Tue Jan 24, 09:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

Public Corruption—Farmington, New Mexico

When US Representative Randy “Duke” Cunningham pleaded guilty to accepting bribes a month ago, it was a perfect example of the type of enormous largess people tend to expect when they think of public corruption. For example, Mr. Cunningham received cash, cars, rugs, antiques, furniture, yacht club fees, moving expenses, and vacations totally roughly $2.4 million from defense contractors in exchange for aid in winning defense contracts.[1] He also received a Rolls Royce, a graduation party for his daughter, a $200,000 down payment on a condominium, and the payment of capital gains taxes on the sale of his home.[2] When some of the assets related to the bribery case were seized for auction, it was a demonstration of sheer opulence: Persian rugs, a silver candelabra, vases, armoires, a leather sofa, a sleigh-style bed, and even a 19th-century French commode (which is a chest of drawers, not a toilet).[3]

Largess, however, is certainly not required to have the federal government seek an indictment for public corruption. Norman Geoff McMahon of Farmington, New Mexico can certainly attest to that. Mr. McMahon was indicted on December 14 by a federal grand jury in the Albuquerque federal District Court.[4] He is accused of bribing Ralph Mason, a former Bureau of Land Management [hereinafter BLM] employee, a total of four times.[5] The total amount of the alleged bribes? Only $7,000 over a 14-month period: there were allegedly two separate payments of $2,500 made “on or about Dec. 15, 2000,” and two payments of $1,000 made “on or about Feb. 15, 2002.”[6]

The indictment, which BLM denies any knowledge of its existence, states that the funds were given “in return for influencing the public official in the performance of any official act relating to the [BLM] permit to mine humate.”[7] Humate is a mineral made from fossilized plants and animals which is used in fertilizer.[8] According to a spokesman for BLM’s Farmington office, Mr. Mason was “let go” by BLM some time ago, but wouldn’t provide a reason for the discharge.[9]

The reason why public corruption prosecutions can target both high-rollers and more modest “givers” is because the federal statute covering bribery sets an incredibly low threshold. In short, if any person gives anything of value to any public official, with the intent to influence any official act, the federal government can prosecute that person.[10]

The intent of the “giver” is key in these situations. Obviously, if the offeror of the bribe writes “in exchange for influencing an official act” in the memo section of his check, that would pretty well establish the requisite intent. Typically, however, circumstances are not that clear-cut. Furthermore, the thing of value “must be given with more than some ‘generalized hope or expectation of ultimate benefit on the part of the donor.’ … The money must be offered, in other words, with the intent and design to influence official action in exchange for the donation.”[11] The recipient of the bribe, moreover, does not need to be “actually corrupted by the offer,” nor is it “necessary to show that the official accepted the bribe.”[12]

Intent can be proven by introducing evidence of “overheard conversations” or by introducing “circumstantial evidence” which tends to suggest the requisite intent.[13]

At Tue Jan 24, 09:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Public Corruption—Farmington, New Mexico

When US Representative Randy “Duke” Cunningham pleaded guilty to accepting bribes a month ago, it was a perfect example of the type of enormous largess people tend to expect when they think of public corruption. For example, Mr. Cunningham received cash, cars, rugs, antiques, furniture, yacht club fees, moving expenses, and vacations totally roughly $2.4 million from defense contractors in exchange for aid in winning defense contracts.[1] He also received a Rolls Royce, a graduation party for his daughter, a $200,000 down payment on a condominium, and the payment of capital gains taxes on the sale of his home.[2] When some of the assets related to the bribery case were seized for auction, it was a demonstration of sheer opulence: Persian rugs, a silver candelabra, vases, armoires, a leather sofa, a sleigh-style bed, and even a 19th-century French commode (which is a chest of drawers, not a toilet).[3]

Largess, however, is certainly not required to have the federal government seek an indictment for public corruption. Norman Geoff McMahon of Farmington, New Mexico can certainly attest to that. Mr. McMahon was indicted on December 14 by a federal grand jury in the Albuquerque federal District Court.[4] He is accused of bribing Ralph Mason, a former Bureau of Land Management [hereinafter BLM] employee, a total of four times.[5] The total amount of the alleged bribes? Only $7,000 over a 14-month period: there were allegedly two separate payments of $2,500 made “on or about Dec. 15, 2000,” and two payments of $1,000 made “on or about Feb. 15, 2002.”[6]

The indictment, which BLM denies any knowledge of its existence, states that the funds were given “in return for influencing the public official in the performance of any official act relating to the [BLM] permit to mine humate.”[7] Humate is a mineral made from fossilized plants and animals which is used in fertilizer.[8] According to a spokesman for BLM’s Farmington office, Mr. Mason was “let go” by BLM some time ago, but wouldn’t provide a reason for the discharge.[9]

The reason why public corruption prosecutions can target both high-rollers and more modest “givers” is because the federal statute covering bribery sets an incredibly low threshold. In short, if any person gives anything of value to any public official, with the intent to influence any official act, the federal government can prosecute that person.[10]

The intent of the “giver” is key in these situations. Obviously, if the offeror of the bribe writes “in exchange for influencing an official act” in the memo section of his check, that would pretty well establish the requisite intent. Typically, however, circumstances are not that clear-cut. Furthermore, the thing of value “must be given with more than some ‘generalized hope or expectation of ultimate benefit on the part of the donor.’ … The money must be offered, in other words, with the intent and design to influence official action in exchange for the donation.”[11] The recipient of the bribe, moreover, does not need to be “actually corrupted by the offer,” nor is it “necessary to show that the official accepted the bribe.”[12]

Intent can be proven by introducing evidence of “overheard conversations” or by introducing “circumstantial evidence” which tends to suggest the requisite intent.[13]

At Wed Jan 25, 07:18:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
BLM Cancels December 14 Oil and Gas Lease Sale

The Bureau of Land Management has cancelled the competitive oil & gas lease sale scheduled for December 14, 2005. Information pertaining to the new protest procedures and how to properly file a protest was inadvertently omitted from the sale notice dated October 28, 2005. The next sale is tentatively scheduled for March 15, 2006.

Parcels from the cancelled sale will be considered for leasing, along with any subsequently recommended parcels in sufficient time to advertise for the next sale.

For questions regarding the cancellation of December 14, 2005 lease sale, contact Laurie Moore at the BLM California State Office, (916) 978-4377.


California State Office – 2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-1834, Sacramento, CA 95825

At Tue Feb 07, 05:02:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Marlene, I miss you. The ache doesn’t go away. You were like a rock, and for you to take your life, to believe it was too much to bear, it must have been awful. In 46 short years you made a real difference in a lot of lives. I don’t imagine someone like Ron Huntsinger can feel much pain, but it’s my prayer that God will teach him to understand what he did and to feel sorry and ashamed.

At Thu Feb 09, 08:25:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
I can tell you a little. Marlene has two sisters. Both are doing everything they can to help get some justice for Marlene, but this is a matter of proving legally that the trustee is the trustee. A say-so from her sisters won’t clear it up. No one else has ever challenged it, not even the feds. The doctor is being obstructionist, because he doesn’t want to produce the records, I guess. I suppose if someone commits suicide under your care you think you are going to get sued, even if that is not the intention.

What saddens me in addition to losing Marlene in such an unnecessary way, that the slightest humane action on the part of her boss could have averted, is that even after her death some people are more concerned about themselves than seeing the right thing done. I don’t take lightly the idea that people are afraid to put their jobs on the line and I wouldn’t ask it. But even people with nothing to lose won’t speak up.

The heartening thing though is that so very many people have shown courage. People who did not have to help have come forward, people who could lose their jobs stepped up. And there are more of these than the former. Let’s hope the doctor does the right thing, or that he can be compelled legally to do what needs to be done.

In the moments before Marlene decided to die, maybe nothing could have changed her mind. But a week before, if she had not received memos threatening career-ending disciplinary action, there is no doubt in my mind she’d be alive. And it wasn’t just the job. By losing her job she’d also lose her home. You are so right that it is tragic. I think it is a lessen for anyone who supervises anyone else, that showing humanity and compassion can make all the difference. But bullies are not interested in that.

At Sat Feb 11, 08:36:00 AM, Anonymous JackH said…
This message isn’t about Bush-bashing, but it is about what the Bush administration intends to do with lands in California. Part of the plan is in the budget, but part of it is a directive to the BLM. I saw the message about how Marlene felt at home in California, and I thought about why that is true for so many people. In what other state do you have so much diversity of landscape, so much access to urban centers, farmland, and forest? Mountains and desert? The beauty of California’s protected lands is particularly awe-inspiring.

The Bush Administration plans to sell off more than $1 billion in public lands over the next decade, including 85,000 acres of national forest land in California. So even after he is no longer president, these sales will continue, if the budget passes.

According to the admin, most of the proceeds from the sale would help pay for rural schools and roads, making up for a federal subsidy that has been eliminated from Bush’s 2007 budget. I think this is doubtful, but even if true, it is not a proper solution to the funding of schools. Destroying forest land will hurt children and their futures as much as underfunding their schools. It will lead to more pollution, more “have” for the haves and less for the “havenots.” When the money from the sale is gone, the children will go back to using decades old books, and studying in falling down buildings. It is at most a very short-term, short sighted fix, because those forests will never come back into public hands.

Congress hasn’t approved the plans, but as we have seen from the kind of things Congress has passed lately, there is a good chance it will go through. This sale would amount to the largest land sale of its kind since President Theodore Roosevelt established the U.S. Forest Service in 1905 and created the modern national forest system. With Republicans so divided over ethical scandals and with so much disillusionment among the public about the current administration, it is important to try to try to bring your Republican reps onboard with protecting the environment. Conservation ought to be far more bipartisan than it is.

“This is a fire sale of public lands. It is utterly unprecedented,” said Char Miller, professor of environmental history at Trinity University in Houston, who has written extensively about the Forest Service. “It signals that the lands and the agency that manages them are in deep trouble. For the American public, it is an awful way to understand that it no longer controls its public land.”

The Forest Service has earmarked more than 300,000 acres for sale in 32 states, including tracts in California national forests, ranging in size from 90 acres in Angeles National Forest to 32,921 acres in the Klamath National Forest. Most of the California land slated for the auction block would be scattered across six national forests in the Sierra Nevada.

White House officials directed the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to sell off at least $350 million worth of public land, with the money to go directly to the general treasury. This is even more of a problem. This will just get spent in Iraq or on the probable war in Iran. In any case, it will never, by going into the general treasury, be of any benefit, even short term, for the citizens of this country, because we have trillions of dollars in national debt. $350 million dollars won’t pay a month’s worth of interest, and precious land can be sold off without any Congressional approval just by presidential proclamation.

I am not even sure Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior, could stop this if she wanted to. But is worth emailing or writing congressional reps, the DOI, and the BLM.

The Department of Agriculture oversees the Forest Service, not the DOI.

At Sun Feb 12, 07:01:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Has anyone else been contacted by Greg Aumann, a BLM agent (not CA BLM law enforcement)saying he is the “lead investigator” in Marlene Braun’s death? I found out he isn’t, that Peter Morrow in DC who works for the OIG is. I haven’t responded to his requests, but I don’t know if I should or what is going on.

At Sun Feb 12, 11:53:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Mr. Aumann is not an independent investigator. He works for the BLM Bakersfield office. No one, and I mean no one as a private citizen should be talking to the BLM regarding Marlene’s death at this point. Talk to Agent Morrow first and get his advice first before you answer any questions from BLM. Agent Peter Morrow is the official lead investigator with the Programs Intergrity Division with the Office of Inspector General in DC concerning Marlene’s investigation. Let him know that BLM staff is trying to ask you questions. I wouldn’t trust the BLM if my life depended on it. They are only protecting the interest of their management team.

BLM is not working for the Office of Inspector General, quite the opposite as a matter of fact. Sure, BLM can do their own internal investigation, but that’s all it is…just that…simply INTERNAL to cover their butts.

I would only talk or correspond with Agent Morrow with the OIG which is totally a sperate enity from BLM, even though both agencies are under Department of Interior.

I can tell you for a fact that there are so many issues in the BLM California offices that Federal government higher than the Department of Interior Inspector General’s office are investigating as well. I can’t tell you who or why, but rest assured it’s the hot topic on Capitol Hill and everyone is talking about it.

I suggest you call Agent Morrow before you speak to any BLM personnel and if you are a BLM employee or retired BLM employee I would suggest you call Agent Morrow as well before you speak with BLM. If you are a BLM employee, you best provide the facts and document every question they ask you and your response and send them to Agent Morrow. You wouldn’t want to get written up for insubordination.

I hope this helps you.

Agent Morrow’s phone number in DC
202-208-6261 Direct Line

If you wanted to send him documentation and remain anonymous you can be assured that you will be. Everything is confidential. Even if you have information regarding information on any other BLM CA Field Office, he would love to hear from you.

His mailing address is:

OIG-Programs Intergrity Division
Agent Peter Morrow
1849 C Street, NW
Washington DC 20240

202-208-6023 Secure FAX line

At Sun Feb 12, 05:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Josephine K:

Your entry couldn’t be more accurate.

BLM California’s “Human Resources” department contains several individuals whose speciality is to ensure that the managers get their way in disciplinary matters, no matter how ludicrous the supposed offense was. They subvert the employee’s rights, whereas they’re supposed to be neutral. The disciplinary expert in the California State Office even has the Orwellian title of “Employee Relations Specialist”. That’s the joke of the year!

All the inhouse processes are stacked against a targetted employee, and the only recourse is either representation by the Union (only available if you are non-management), or the shrinking protection of the Office of Special Counsel or MSPB.

Even if the manager loses at one of these levels, he is assured a soft landing. If you want a good laugh, go to the February 1, 2006 news release on BLM California’s official website which introduced the new Hollister Field Manager. Robert Beehler, the former Field Manager, was described as having “Retired from the Federal Service”. No mention was made of his conviction for embezzlement.

At Sun Feb 12, 07:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
I find it odd that the webmaster for the Bakersfield Office updated their office directory on their website February 8, 2006.

Mr. Aumann is no longer listed on the directory. He was listed last month as a Law Enforcement Ranger and not a Special Agent. I can’t find him anywhere, on any office directory.


At Tue Feb 14, 06:59:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Just a reflection on Valentine’s Day. When many people receive candy and cards of love, Marlene last year got news that her grievance was denied and she’d have to appeal further and further to get any resolution. I noticed her suspension was served at around Christmas time and the New Year holiday. Do managers aim for this or is it pure coincidence. Anyway, it was a nice Valentine, Ron and Jim. You guys must be just the sweetest.

At Sat Feb 25, 04:15:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Posted on Sat, Feb. 25, 2006

Oil firm withdraws plans for Carrizo The possibility of oil production on federal land in the national monument will likely be eliminated when the leases expireBy David Sneeddsneed@thetribunenews.com

A Bakersfield oil exploration firm has withdrawn its plans to drill for oil in the Carrizo Plain National Monument, all but eliminating the possibility that any leases on federal land within the monument will ever be developed.
Longbow LLC of Bakersfield will not meet a March 15 deadline to have an exploratory drill rig in place and operating in the Wells Canyon area along the southern boundary of the monument near New Cuyama.
“We came into this thing late,” said John Howe, who heads Longbow. “I would have pursued it if I had time.”
The lease is owned by Richard D. Sawyer of Malibu. There is no way Sawyer could find someone else to put a drill rig in on such short notice, and this means the lease is “as good as dead,” said Ron Huntsinger, field manager for the Bakersfield Bureau of Land Management office, which manages the monument in the southeastern corner of the county.
“He could appeal and ask for an extension of time, but I won’t give him one,” he said. “He could also appeal to our Interior Board of Land Appeals, but I don’t see any way in the world he would win that.”
Sawyer’s seven leases, as well as two others on federal land, were grandfathered in when the monument was created by presidential decree in 2000. The other two leases will expire in 60 days and 90 days.
Huntsinger believes there is insufficient oil and gas on these leases to justify developing them. Once those leases expire, the era of oil production on federal land in the Carrizo Plain National Monument will end because the monument’s proclamation prohibits any new leases.
However, two private ranches lie within the boundaries of the monument and continue to produce oil. Other smaller private parcels within the monument could also be developed.
The announcement to drill for oil drew sharp criticism from environmentalists who said oil production is contrary to the conservation goals of the monument.
Howe is discouraged by this reaction to the drilling proposal and does not intend to pursue any other jobs within the monument. He said the drilling would have taken place in the Cuyama Valley and would not have damaged the fragile resources of the Carrizo Plain itself.
“From the knee-jerk response that this has gotten,” he said, “it’s not worth the time.”
If Howe had moved to develop the lease, he would have drilled one exploratory well on a 153-acre parcel. If enough oil and gas deposits had been found, as many as 3,500 acres could have been developed.

At Tue Feb 28, 07:03:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
The Greg Aumann who IS employed with the Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management Bakersfield Office as a Special Agent is not participating in ANY INVESTIGATIONS into Ms. Braun’s death nor is he investigating any other BLM Field Office in California.

1) There could be another person named Greg Aumann who is a private investigator hired by the family of Ms. Braun, however that is unlikely to have the same name.

2) There could be someone spreading false information to “stir the pot” so to speak.

3) There could be someone protraying to be Agent Aumann from the BLM.

THE FACT IS: Agent Morrow with the Department of Interior, Office of Inspector General in Washington DC IS the Official Lead Investigator into Ms. Brauns death. If you have information to share regarding Ms. Braun’s death or other Field Office issues, you only need to speak with Agent Morrow and he can be reached at 202-208-6261.

Your information and identity will be kept confidential.

Thank you

At Wed Mar 01, 08:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Second post on duplicate news article
by lesa donnelly at 2006/03/01 15:02:53 US/Mountain
I posted this on the other article blog, so I’m adding it to this site too. A friend recently sent me The Billings Outpost article on Marlene Braun. She wanted me to see the responses to the article. I first heard about Ms. Braun’s situation and suicide last summer when someone sent me the LA Times article. Ms. Braun’s tragedy is not an isolated incident. Employees who do not “go along to get along” while working for the federal government will receive harsh treatment in the form of bullying, intimidation and adverse personnel actions. Ms. Braun’s supervisor used these tactics against her to get her to “behave” and to retaliate when she did not.

There is an insidious method of shutting down employees who raise allegations of harassment, discrimination, reprisal, whistleblower, etc. Management uses conduct and performance to terrorize employees. It usually works because the employee is trumped up with false allegations and is often terminated. Or the employee loses his/her physical and/or mental health and can no longer cope with the job. I’ve seen employees with 15 years in federal service just quit the job. I’ve seen employees become physically incapacitated, become deeply depressed and anxious, go into mental hospitals, attempt suicide, get divorced, lose children to Child Protective Services, go into unrecoverable debt, and lose their homes – all because of the impacts of working in a hostile environment.

I worked for the USDA for 25 years. I filed a class action lawsuit, “Donnelly v. Glickman” and “Donnelly v. Veneman” against the Forest Service in 1995. Website searches will provide info on the lawsuit and the many interviews in newspaper articles. I won certification of the lawsuit on behalf of 6000 female employees in California. A settlement resulted. The entire ordeal lasted from October, 1993 through January, 2006. Because I was the lead class agent in the lawsuit the agency went after me with every resource they had. Prior to 1994 I had never had a conduct or performance problem and, in fact, had received numerous cash awards. After I filed the lawsuit I was investigated 3 times, accused of being violent, given unacceptable performance ratings, received letters of reprimand (too many to count), 2 suspensions, Leave Without Pay, AWOL, had my duties removed, had my job abolished 3 times, was placed on leave restriction etc. I had my phone tapped, was stalked by Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers while off work, received threatening phone calls and had my home broken into twice that I knew of. Coworkers that I had known for years were afraid to speak with me because management would grill them about our discussions. Some employees were told to spy on me. The agency did a background investigation on me. Management came into my office and took pictures of everything in it and all the pictures/jokes that I had on the walls. I was harassed about taking time off for my father’s funeral. I could go on and on about what the USDA & Forest Service management did to me from 1993 through 2002. I had approximately 50 EEO complaints filed.

I fought them and won.

Not only that, I represented other employees who filed EEO complaints. I mentored with my attorney and learned the ins and outs of employment law. I left the agency in 2002 with a large settlement. Since I had been representing employees since 1994 (on government time)I started a business with my brother – Donnelly & Donnelly Alternative Dispute Resolutions. We’ve represented hundreds of employees in the EEO process from informal through hearing. We’ve represented employees at MSPB. I’ve done hundreds of mediations and settled many complainants. I read one response that said there was no where to go and no one to turn to. If anyone out there needs help, CALL ME! My number is 530-365-3456 (Anderson, CA. just south of Redding). Government managers want EEO complainants to think they are isolated, alone and have no recourse. It is a way of shutting down complaints and complainants. I currently represent some employees who work for the Interior. I’ve represented BLM employees in the past. If you know anyone who needs EEO help or just needs to talk to someone who has been through it, give them my number. It is important that we support the employees who are going through the nightmare of workplace bullying, harassment or any type of hostile environment. As Marlene Braun has shown, some employees very lives depend upon it.

Lesa L. Donnelly

Response to the Greg Aumann Post
by lesa donnelly at 2006/03/01 15:22:16 US/Mountain
Since my post I’ve received contacts from quite a few folks out there. Everything is confidential and no one will know who has contacted me. I am glad to be of assistance. Again, my phone number is 530-365-3456 and my email is lesa@snowcrest.net
My spam blocker is on high so please put something regarding BLM or DOI in the subject line so I don’t miss the message. I may have missed one, so if I don’t respond to you, try again.

Regarding the post from the alleged Greg Aumann…I do not believe it was from him. I’ve received no contacts from anyone claiming to be him. I think that someone posted the comment to try to scare people away from contacting me. Please be assured that I will not speak with any investigator, employee or member of the public regarding Ms. Braun or any other situation I am aware of. Confidentiality is the utmost importance in civil rights or workplace matters. I take it as seriously as if it were atty-client privledge. I admire all of you out there who are trying to fight discrimination and harassment in the workplace. We all must support each other. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that when one of us is oppressed we are all oppressed. When one of us rises, we all rise. Keep fighting The Good Fight.


At Fri Mar 03, 08:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

There are several of us ladies down here who work for the Bureau and we have been reading these blogs and it is disgusting what we hear you all are involved in. We support you and were wondering if it is true that one of you was terminated? We heard it was because you failed a test or something, but isn’t it really about retaliation? We have the same thing going on in two of our offices and we are afraid to speak up because we would then be subjected to retaliation and fear, more so than we already are. We are even afraid to join the Union.

My co-worker friend and I called Ms. Donnelly for advice and her phone kept ringing so we didn’t leave a message. Is she really on the employees side or is this another plot from state office management?
We are afraid to email her. Our questions to you are; can we contact you or if we emailed Ms. Donnelly would our names be kept confidential? Is there anyway we can join you in your case without our names being disclosed or can you fight for all women in BLM who have and are subjected to discrimination, bullying etc.? Can women who retired from the BLM recently join in your case as well?

Word travels fast in the BLM and we think that what you are doing having the courage to stand up against management and fight for our rights is outstanding.

We don’t know if you can talk to us or not or repond on the blog thing so if you can, great if not, can we communicate through Ms. Donnelly without anyone knowing our names?

You all have alot of support and I hope you win and make a difference.

God Bless all of you

At Sun Mar 05, 07:35:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
For people in the San Luis Obispo area, there is conference in March on the environment. It says by invitation only but it looks like if you call the number you can get invited. There is a short dedication to Marlene Braun at the start of the conference and then an interesting program on wildlife, marine issues, etc.


At Sun Mar 05, 11:01:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Response to BLM in So Ca
by Lesa Donnelly at 2006/03/04 20:39:14 US/Mountain
Hello ladies. Thank you for your support. Fear of retaliation is healthy. It is your survival instincts kicking in. It is much easier to survive reprisal when there is support from coworkers. I see that you tried calling. My internet phone line is not working and until I get SBC in to look at it I’ve been using my phone line to get on the internet. When that occurs callers will either get a constant ring or a busy signal. Sorry about that. Try again. My voice mail goes to my home and is confidential. My email is the same. Your names and information will be kept completely confidential.

I am getting quite a few calls from BLM women in CA. I’m thinking that it might be ripe for a CA class action complaint similar to Donnelly v. Veneman/Donnelly v. Glickman in the Forest Service in CA. For those who fear coming forward at this time, we can speak with you confidentially to gather information. Women who retired, were fired or quit the BLM recently can join a class action. If you don’t have an active EEO complaint you would still be considered a class member. When I filed the Donnelly Class there were approx. 2,500 FS women working in CA. When the judge certified the class, he certified it on behalf of 6,000 women in CA. That is because it included women who quit, retired and were fired. It also included temporary employees.

For those who may feel more comfortable speaking with a BLM employee instead of me or prior to speaking with me, I suggest calling or emailing these two women.

Traci Hallstrom

phone: 530-241-1676

email: swisBeagle@snowcrest.net

web: http://www.swisBeagle.com


Andrea Carter

phone: 530-347-4524

email: littlebrat29@yahoo.com

Traci and Andrea have alot of information to share. We are working together on BLM issues of discrimination, HWE and reprisal. There is truly strength in unity. We look forward to working with other BLM women and men…..lesa

BLM CA State Office EEO
by Local News at 2006/03/04 20:56:02 US/Mountain
It’s too bad BLM employees throughout California do not know the real reason why one of the EEO specialist retired recently and why the EEO Manager is retiring in April of 2006.

Women in BLM
by SafeTNut at 2006/03/05 05:50:48 US/Mountain
Everything you read about Lesa Donnelly is true. She had a major case that she won and she is an advocate for the employees. You have to check about legal confidentiality. A firm like Donnelly and Donnelly will certainly keep your info confidential, but what you need to know is whether it can be subpoenaed. An attorney’s files can’t. There is absolute privilege. Lesa Donnelly is on the up and up. It is good to check though.

You should join your union. A union gains strength from its members. I am a long time union rep and before some new blood joined it was a pretty hopeless group. If you join, make sure you get involved! Don’t just join and expect that whoever is there now is going to take care of you. Work with the union.

It is awful to know this is going on throughout BLM’s California offices. People win more EEO cases than they lose if they persist. You might have to appeal. That’s a fact though. If you have a complaint that has merit, your chances are good, yet it can suck you dry for a while. Have courage!

At Thu Mar 09, 07:39:00 AM, Anonymous Don said…
I have heard from friends of mine that a woman who was one of the complaintents in the EEO case in Redding BLM has actually been fired. Also that more firings are likely. What is going on in California BLM? I hear rumors about indictments for some of the middle managers but not the bosses. I don’t know if these are true, but I wish the press would look into this.

At Sat Mar 18, 10:17:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Don, it is true that one of the complainants in Redding was terminated. It was clearly in retaliation for filing an EEO and Whistleblower disclosure. The management in the BLM CA State Office is protecting the field office managers state wide and could care less about the employees. Several Department of Interior employees on the West coast and other Western States are filing a Class complaint. It will be in the news.

At Wed Mar 29, 08:02:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
March 22, 2006
“Because It Was the Right Thing to Do”
I keep thinking over and over to myself, “I don’t get it, I just don’t get it!” Here I am a single female, 5’5″ and I don’t pack a gun, yet I work with Special Agents and LE Rangers who do and the one’s with all the seniority and/or are strong and/or stand a towering 6’10” and even they are afraid to speak out about the corruption in the Department of Interior within their own offices as well as the office of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Law Enforcement (LE) in National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) and the Bureau of Land Management Director’s Office of Law Enforcement Service (OLES) in Washington, DC. They are afraid to say anything, yet asked me to be their voice, what am I suppose to do? How do I handle this? I am just “one”, do they think I can change anything or make a difference….I am just “one”. I am just “one” and continue to hear the “voices” of many.
Let’s see, we have four in Arizona, two in Nevada, and more in California than I can count on my toes and fingers. These are law enforcement personnel including agents who have confided in me, they put their faith in me, they tell me what they know, what they have seen. They say it’s because I am not afraid and have already been retaliated against and my name is known all over. “I am the brave one” some say, other’s say, “Don’t ever question the twins, if they say it’s wrong, it’s wrong, if they say it’s right, it’s right.” Maybe it’s an honor that Stace and I are well liked and respected, but sometimes I wonder if having high morals and ethics are worth it? Do we play by the rules? Yes! Are we perfect? No. Yet, why do I feel so compelled to help them out?
Well, maybe it’s because I have been abused verbally, retaliated against for disclosing wrong doing, bullied, harassed, one gal was terminated, have I heard it all? Yep! I was afraid once, I coward in the corner shaking, I cried, I experienced every thought and emotion….and then I got to “the breaking point”….no one ever told me about that one! That’s the point where you either fall or climb up the mountain and over it. I chose to climb the mountain. It hasn’t been easy and I swing on my rope every other day just to take a break and look down to see how far I have climbed. The top is not very far away….I have to keep climbing. Let me tell you what I see right now as I swing from my rope; I look down and I see a wonderful, smart, funny, spunky, outgoing, well educated, talented female fire fighter who is respected and well loved by her peers, family and friends, she has been bullied, abused, retaliated against and now terminated from the Federal government for doing what she thought was, “the right thing to do”. She is now sad, angry, depressed; she doesn’t know what she is going to do to support her family without a job. She never thought this would ever happen to her after 18 years of government service.
I just took several more steps climbing this mountain watching her!

Now I see a lot of what appears to be shiny objects on several small scurrying life forms a long way down below me. It appears as if it is an ant colony and their Queen has left the building so to speak. They are dysfunctional because they have no leader. They remind me of the agents and rangers who no longer have faith in their own law enforcement leaders. There is no trust amongst any of them and they are seeking to find a new Queen, someone who can nurture them back into the organization that they were once happy in, an organization of leaders whom they trusted, an organization that believed their mission statement to be 100% followed and true.
I am getting stronger for the next steps ahead just watching them. I wonder if they can see me. They should follow my path.
As I swing out a little more I can see a medium size box. In it are several pieces of furniture, some are made of glass (breakable), some are made of plastic (can bend a little bit), and some are made of steel (unbreakable, ya can’t even bend it), it looks like a remodeling project going on and the project manager isn’t building the office with the correct architectural plans. Its chaotic, a lot of project manager’s giving off tasks, but the workers are leaving the construction site and walking off the job so fast that there appears to be more chiefs and not enough Indians and it is very dysfunctional. A lot of cheating, stealing, and yelling going on. This is a bad place to be. Someone needs to come in and take over and get it organized and rebuild because it looks like the roof just now caved in.
This appears to be the office in which I work in; Thank God I have my rope tied to me because when I get to the top of the mountain……I’m gonna cut it off!
I look down and I see my parents, there’s my dad, “hi dad”, oh I see my mom there too, “hi mom”. They are such loving parents, 60 years together and they still sit next to each other watching TV day and night together. I see my dad, a WWII Hero, both of them instilled with working and going after want you want. They never gave any of us children a dime, we had to earn it. I am glad they brought us up that way. We never took advantage of anything and I have learned to appreciate things. Before I started climbing the mountain my dad gave me the best talk. He told me of the war he was in and within that war there were many battles, battles he lost and battles he won, but he never lost focus of the War and that’s what we have to do, “never lose focus of the War” My therapist told me that as well and these are two men in my life that I have the utmost respect for.
I often wonder throughout my life what my purpose is in this life. I don’t think I have much time, but this is the conclusion I came up with. Maybe I am single for a reason with no kids; maybe climbing this mountain will make some sort of difference after all. Maybe when I get to the top I will be able to yell loud enough that people all over will hear what I have to say. Someone down there has to listen, there has to be a lesson taught through all of this, people will need to be removed, people will need to be suspended, there has got to be a major lesson taught and learned from all of this. A point needs to be made, a big one. No one is above the law! The only thing I have to lose over this is my job, because I will not lose my dignity, my values, my morals, and my character. I will still have my loving friends and family. I love the people I work with; I don’t want to quit my job because of some dysfunctional greedy people. Ethics need to be restored. Someone wrote something on the internet and it really hit home to me, they said that as public servants, we are “we the people” are working “for the people” and “for the people” pay us as “we the people” or is it the other way around?
I have heard project managers in that box down there say, “I hope Traci gets a settlement and quits” and “I want her out of here” (meaning me), another gal who said something, “Because it was just the right thing to do!” I am no environmentalist, I am not very religious, but I was raised with old fashion family values with morals and ethics that will never be taken away from me. Someone once told me, “Go for the Gold”; I asked them what they meant. I explained to them that money is not going to solve the problems, it’s the principle and lessons need to be learned. They said to me, “lessons will be learned if a lot of money is taken away from their budget because they did wrong doing to you.” That made sense, but that’s not what our War is about. So I have been on Air Force One and Air Force Two, I have sat with the President and the First Lady, alone. I have sat next to famous people and politicians, but you know what, they put their pants on just like we do. No one intimidates me. I would give anything to stand before Congress and the Senate and speak from my heart without a planned speech. What is happening in our offices are wrong, what is happening within the Department of Interior (DOI) Law Enforcement program officials is wrong, corruption is wrong, having no faith in your Supervisor’s, Manager’s, and Directors, is just down right sad!
I hope they hear me and I hope they listen! Why? “Because it’s just the right thing to do!”

At Sun Apr 23, 09:22:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
This was in the Billings Outpost this morning referring to one of the supervisors in the BLM Redding field office who has been writing in the blogs. It seems that someone responded to him. The supervisor goes under the name of “KF”

Re: another problem
by One of the “whiners” at 2006/04/22 20:30:31 GMT-6
It has taken me a while to respond to you because I was not sure how to go about it. Yes we knew it was you all this time. You know for someone who likes to quote the facts you should get yours straight. The Redding issue has not gone away and even now you and the others are being watched by people a lot bigger than work in that office. You may have thought you and the others got away with it but ” those who steal from the people must pay back to the PEOPLE” I hope you still feel that the side you chose was the right one when your jail cell is next to your “good buddy”. Good luck with your paranoia now. Marlene’s death will never be in vain if it brings the corruption in the California BLM out in the open. AND BELIEVE ME IT WILL!!!

At Wed Apr 26, 03:54:00 AM, Anonymous jarett r said…
I just looked at the Outpost 291 and saw that there is still no resolution, no report, no release of information or anything on Marlene’s death,and it will be nearly a year soon. This just seems incredible to me. When this first came out in the los angeles paper I thought maybe it was just between Marlene and her boss but I dont think so now. It seem to go up the chain. How far up the chain do people have to go to get an answer? If you work in a company, you try to go to somebody who isnt connected to your boss but is high up. But is Bush or Cheney going to act on this? Will the new Sec. of the Interior or will Kathleen Clarke? My heart goes out to Marlene’s friends and to her family and especially to her mom.

At Thu Apr 27, 10:37:00 AM, Anonymous Roger B. said…
It is time that there is a resolusion to this case. The Carrizo has been under constant attack since Marlene’s death and while I hear TNC isn’t doing business with Ron, its hard to assume that his hand isn’t in it somehow. The feds owe us an explanation and some action in a positive direction. It isn’t just about protecting Marlenes reputation which is still important but protecting employees and the environment. This is a complicated case that involves more than just personnell issues.

At Mon May 01, 07:26:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
There are women in the BLM Redding Office who are designated whistleblowers. There is an impending investigation from Department of Interior Office of Inspector General, Office of Special Counsel and EEO. The tension is high in the Redding Office and the male managers are acting inappropriately with the women. EEO complaints have been filed. The women have been retaliated against on an almost daily basis by the Field Office Mgr., Asst. Field Mgr. and their supervisors.
The women have claims of misappropriation of fire monies along with other whistleblower claims. There were at least two controversial fires that drew negative public attention – homes and property destroyed. BLM admitted their error in starting the 1999 Lowden fire due to untrained and unqualified personnel. Among other claims, the 2004 French fire rehab monies have been used fraudulently by the above-managers.
Additionally, there are still men making decisions about burning and doing controlled burns that do not even have Red card qualifications and are not following proper procedures. This could result in another fire like the 1999 Lowden fire which was started by BLM error and burned homes. One of the whistleblowers was recently fired by the BLM CA Associate State Director, the Redding Field Office manager and her supervisor because they are alleging that she is not qualified in her fire position due to not passing a pack test. She had 18 years in Federal Government service and only 8 years left to retire. One woman, during her recent performance evaluation was physically and verbally intimidated by her supervisor. The CA State Office is doing nothing to stop this behavior.

I think those women are brave and the public should know about the waste, fraud and abuse of the tax payer money that was earmarked to go to fire rehab and that unqualified employees and the unprofessional behaviors that resulted in the BLM fire that burned homes are still happening and there is a public safety risk. The local Redding, California community and the overall California community will be needlessly, but rightly so, concerned or frightened for their safety.

Fire season is starting soon and something must be done with the managers in the BLM Redding, California Office as well as some officials in the BLM CA State Director’s office to alleviate the safety problem and the retaliation matter. The BLM CA State office has been covering up for the BLM Redding manager’s and supervisors. It’s time to bring ethics back into the office which is much needed in the BLM CA.

If the CA BLM State Office hasn’t listened to the Redding women and their were originally 6 complainants and now down to three (Quid Pro Quo?), then one can only assume they never listened to Marlene Braun in Bakersfield. Something is very wrong with the way the BLM CA State office handles the No Fear Act Zero Tolerance Policy as well as Sexual Harassment Zero Tolerance Policy. They seem to cover-up for their managers who are doing the wrong-doing and could care less about the other employees.

At Wed May 03, 07:36:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
In regards to your question, the FBI investigates a wide variety of economic crimes. We are usually tipped off to these cases by citizens, victims of criminal activity and from concerned people inside the various industries we investigate. Some major categories of white collar crime include:

Public Corruption — Voters deserve politicians and public servants who are honest and spend public money wisely. When there is wrongdoing, however, the FBI will work to convict those who have broken trust with our citizens.

At Sat May 06, 03:58:00 AM, Anonymous joan said…
I saw the bakersfield paper which i read online and there was an amazing memorial to Marlene, a lot of signatures of people who are not going to forget what a beautiful place she and her staff made the carrizo. Here’s the site if you want to sign the guestbook which is with the memoral

At Wed May 10, 05:14:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
There are women in the BLM Redding Office who are designated whistleblowers. There is an impending investigation from Department of Interior Office of Inspector General, Office of Special Counsel and EEO. The tension is high in the Redding Office and the male managers are acting inappropriately with the women. EEO complaints have been filed. The women have been retaliated against on an almost daily basis by the Field Office Mgr., Asst. Field Mgr. and their supervisors.
The women have claims of misappropriation of fire monies along with other whistleblower claims. There were at least two controversial fires that drew negative public attention – homes and property destroyed. BLM admitted their error in starting the 1999 Lowden fire due to untrained and unqualified personnel. Among other claims, the 2004 French fire rehab monies have been used fraudulently by the above-managers.

Additionally, there are still men making decisions about burning and doing controlled burns that do not even have Red card qualifications and are not following proper procedures. This could result in another fire like the 1999 Lowden fire which was started by BLM error and burned homes. One of the whistleblowers was recently fired by the BLM CA Associate State Director, the Redding Field Office manager and her supervisor because they are alleging that she is not qualified in her fire position due to not passing a pack test. She had 18 years in Federal Government service and only 8 years left to retire. One woman, during her recent performance evaluation was physically and verbally intimidated by her supervisor. The CA State Office is doing nothing to stop this behavior.

I think those women are brave and the public should know about the waste, fraud and abuse of the tax payer money that was earmarked to go to fire rehab and that unqualified employees and the unprofessional behaviors that resulted in the BLM fire that burned homes are still happening and there is a public safety risk. The local Redding, California community and the overall California community will be needlessly, but rightly so, concerned or frightened for their safety.

Fire season is starting soon and something must be done with the managers in the BLM Redding, California Office as well as some officials in the BLM CA State Director’s office to alleviate the safety problem and the retaliation matter. The BLM CA State office has been covering up for the BLM Redding manager’s and supervisors. It’s time to bring ethics back into the office which is much needed in the BLM CA.

If the CA BLM State Office hasn’t listened to the Redding women and their were originally 6 complainants and now down to three (Quid Pro Quo?), then one can only assume they never listened to Marlene Braun in Bakersfield. Something is very wrong with the way the BLM CA State office handles the No Fear Act Zero Tolerance Policy as well as Sexual Harassment Zero Tolerance Policy. They seem to cover-up for their managers who are doing the wrong-doing and could care less about the other employees.

At Mon May 22, 06:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
So what is the status of the EEO investigation on the women in Redding and then I heard there was another EEO investigation that was just settled with the former BLM CA National Monument manager for the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains. We had heard she was detailed to the CA BLM State office…what was the outcome of her case…anyone know?

What’s up with the investigation report into Marlene Braun’s death?

We as taxpayers have the right to know, otherwise I guess we will have to hear it from the media.


At Thu May 25, 07:37:00 AM, Anonymous KT8 said…
We need to get mobilized on workplace bullying “Healthy Workplace” legislation. These are some tips:
Locate both California District and Capitol office information from their websites. Telephone the offices before emailing. If you dont live in Calif. then find out what your state is doing, who your reps are.

Members of the either the Assembly Labor or Judiciary committees would make ideal authors of the bill. Here are their names and phone numbers at both their District and Sacramento offices. Call today and tell them you want AB 1582 resurrected in the 2006-07 session.
Assembly Labor Committee members

Member Name — (Party, District #), District office city, office phone

Paul Koretz (D-42), Chair, West Hollywood, 310-652-4242 / (916) 319-2042
[Koretz was author of original bill in 2003 and who dropped the bill in 2004 without a hearing]
Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-61) Montclair, 909-621-7483 / (916) 319-2061
[She was co-author of original bill in 2003.]
Gene Mullin (D-19), Vice-chair — 650-341-4319 / (916) 319-2019
John Laird (D-27) Santa Cruz (831-425-1503) Seaside (831-384-1980)/ (916) 319-2027
Loni Hancock (D-14) Berkeley, 510-540-3660 / (916) 319-2014
Judy Chu (D-49) Monterey Park (323-981-3426) El Monte (626-450-6116) / (916) 319-2049
Shirley Horton (R-78) San Diego, 619-234-7878 / (916) 319-2078
Guy Houston (R- 15) Brentwood (925-513-8558) Livermore (925-606-4990) / (916) 319-2015

Assembly Committee on the Judiciary

Ellen Corbett, Chair (D-18) San Leandro, 510-6140181 / (916) 319-2018
Tom Harman, Vice Chair (R-67) Huntington Beach, 714-843-4966 / (916) 319-2067
Patricia Bates (R-73) Oceanside (760-757-8084) Laguna Niguel (949-495-0730) / (916) 319-2073
John Dutra (D-20) Fremont, 510-440-9030 / (916) 319-2020
Loni Hancock (D-14) Berkeley, 510-540-3660 / (916) 319-2014
Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-35) Santa Barbara (805-654-1649) Ventura (805-648-9943) / (916) 319-2035
John Laird (D-27) Santa Cruz (831-425-1503) Seaside (831-384-1980)/ (916) 319-2027
John Longville (D-62) San Bernardino, 909-388-1413 / (916) 319-2062
Cindy Montanez (D-39) Mission Hills, 818-838-3939 / (916) 319-2039
Robert Pacheco (R-60) City of Industry, 626-839-2000 / (916) 319-2060
Todd Spitzer (R-71) Orange, 714-998-0980 / (916) 319-2071
Darrell Steinberg (D-9) Sacramento, 916-324-4676 / (916) 319-2009
Juan Vargas (D-79) Chula Vista, 619-409-7979 / (916) 319-2079

Scheduling appointments to make your case:

Schedule appointments
Instead of saying that you are seeking someone to sponsor the bill, initially simply say that you would like to schedule an “information session”
Keep your focus narrow and to a few simple points
Research the legislator’s biography and past voting record on your issue, and explain how supporting you will further their goals, and will not be perceived as a shift in their platform
Leave simply stated written material, stating your view, and also the opposing view, with your counter remarks to those with opposing viewpoints
Optimally, you should have 3-4 people in your group at the appointment (one person is not as strong and too many simply make the legislator focus on “getting through the meeting” amicably, instead of really discussing the issues)
Match the people in the room to the person being lobbied
Always have a constituent of the legislator present at the meeting
If possible, have someone at he meeting who shares common history with the legislator (i.e. if the legislator is an ex-teacher, the presence of someone in education is beneficial)

Finding a legislator to sponsor a bill:

If you can find a legislator who has a firm personal belief in what your bill represents, this is optimum
Try to find a sponsor that will “own” you legislation, making yours one of the 12 bills that they believe must pass. (This is best realized if the legislator or a family member of theirs has been affected by the issue raised in your proposed bill).
You can call a legislator’s office and simply ask if the legislator has in the past supported legislation of this kind; if not, go on to someone else
If the legislator or their family member (especially a spouse or child) has been affected by the issue you represent, you have the strongest chance for support
Always make a case for how your legislation will in no way conflict with the legislators agenda/platform, and how in fact it further supports it
Emphasize to the legislator what’s in it for them to support your legislation
In addition to stating your case, give the legislator in writing what the opposition may say, and how the opposition can be successfully counter argued
Accept that politically some legislators may not be able to sponsor your bill, but may still be able to simply vote favorably for it, and that some simply will not support it

Rallying support for the legislation:

Offer that if the legislator can offer their expertise to amend and improve the legislation, that this help is valued and appreciated (When they their add ideas they become stakeholders and therefore “own” the legislation and become much stronger proponents of it)
Gain support of people representing bodies of people where possible (i.e. unions, associations or organizations)
Realize that individuals can only heavily influence is they are a spouse or major financial contributor
Realize that grassroots letters from constituents are very effective
Know that media can be used to support your legislation (Don’t forget that when you attempt to gain media coverage, your information must be sent two places: 1) to the news division, and, 2) to the editorial division

Advocacy Skills:

Know that the goal of advocacy is to affect the legislative process
Know that you are asking legislators to either reinforce their stance (easy) or to change their stance (difficult)
Know that if you fail on your first attempt that raising the issue again, and again, can win on a subsequent attempt
Tell legislators how their support of the legislation helps them to achieve their agenda (That it supports their platform, provides gains in constituent support, leaves a legacy of voting for an issue that they can be proud of in retirement)
Try to anticipate questions you might be asked and rehearse your point, counterpoint, response skills
Go beyond the talking points by knowing your material and by reading the bill
“Inoculate” the legislator to attacks they may get by supporting you, by telling them the arguments that can be made against your proposed legislation and how the legislator can counter argue for you
If you have many points, stick to just the three strongest ones
Written materials should be left behind
Written materials should state your case simply, can be humorous, or can be a dramatic statement, that includes a visual, and should memorable
Never mistake polite listening for agreement or endorsement
After a meeting, access its chemistry, and if you should either continue your efforts with the legislator, or move on to someone else
Never debrief in the hallways, elevator, restroom, or anywhere near where the actual meeting took place (You can never tell who may be overhearing you)
If you are unsure of what a legislator said, call their office for clarification (They will appreciate being given the opportunity to clarify, rather than be misquoted)
Always follow up every step of the process with thank you letters and emails (so few do this)

At Wed Jun 07, 07:47:00 AM, Anonymous Kathy Hermes said…
For a followup story on Marlene’s case, see the San Luis Obispo New Times, June 1, 2006 at this link:

Basically, the government is stalling. Write to the Secretary of the Interior:

Hon. Dirk Kempthorne
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240


At Mon Jul 03, 05:35:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Another of Marlene’s birthdays has gone by, and still no answers…at least public ones…C’mon, BLM!

At Sat Jul 22, 02:36:00 PM, Anonymous Matthew said…
There are new grazing regs affecting the Carrizo. See BLM’s July Newsbytes. Nothing seems to change for the better.

At Fri Jul 28, 05:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
U.S. Department of the Interior
Bureau of Land Management
News Release

For Release: July 26, 2006 CA-SO-06-11
Contact: John Dearing (916) 978-4622 or Dave Christy (916) 985-4474

Carrizo Plain National Monument Planning to Resume

With the recent appointment of the new Carrizo Plain National Monument Advisory Committee, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is ready to resume work with the public on a draft resource management plan (RMP) to guide the monumentâ?Ts future, according to BLM State Director Mike Pool.

The committee, a nine-member panel appointed by the Secretary of the Interior, will advise BLM on development of the plan, said Pool. â?oWeâ?Tre very pleased to have the new committee in place and we look forward to their help in crafting a land use plan that both recognizes the special values that led to the monumentâ?Ts designation and provides for an appropriate level of public use and enjoyment.â?

BLM has decided to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) to support the plan, based on â?opublic requests and our interest in expanding public involvement in the planning process,â? he said.

In cooperation with the committee, the BLM and its monument managing partners, The Nature Conservancy and the California Department of Fish and Game, will be conducting additional public scoping meetings later this fall to gather input on issues to be addressed in the draft RMP and EIS, expected to be ready for public review and comment sometime in 2007. Prior scoping comments received will also be addressed to ensure the documents are responsive to all public issues and concerns.

The Carrizo Plain, the largest undeveloped remnant of the once vast San Joaquin Valley ecosystem, was designated a national monument in 2001 in recognition of its special resource values, including threatened and endangered species such as the San Joaquin kit fox, giant kangaroo rat, and blunt-nosed leopard lizard. It also contains nationally significant geological features, such as one of the best exposed examples of the 10-million year old San Andreas Fault, as well as one of the most significant cultural sites in California at Painted Rock. In the spring, the Plain exhibits a lavish wildflower display of goldfields, purple owls, lupine, and the rare California jewelflower.

Carrizo Plain Advisory Committee members are: Ellen Cypher, PhD, plant ecologist and research ecologist, Bakersfield; Neil Havlik, PhD, natural resources manager, San Luis Obispo; Raymond Hatch, former mayor, Taft; Michael Khus-Zarate, an educator and member of the Carrizo Plain Native American Advisory Council, Fresno; Dale Kuhnle, rancher, Santa Margarita; Jim Patterson, San Luis Obispo County supervisor, Atascadero; Robert Pavlik, environmental planner, San Luis Obispo; Carl Twisselman, rancher and member of the BLM Central California Resource Advisory Council, McKittrick; and Raymond Watson, Kern County supervisor, Bakersfield.

Further information on the Carrizo Plain can be obtained from BLMâ?Ts Bakersfield Field Office, 3801 Pegasus Dr., Bakersfield, Calif., 93308 or (661) 391-6000.
California State Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Sacramento, CA 95825

At Wed Dec 06, 07:23:00 AM, Anonymous Jack said…
See this story: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/mld/sanluisobispo/16154056.htm?template=contentModules/printstory.jsp

New hopes for action at Carrizo Plain arise
San Luis Obispo Tribune
By David Whitney
dwhitney@thetribunenews.com Posted on Sun, Dec. 03, 2006

Huntsinger is leaving Bakersfield to work under the science coordinator’s office in DC. The RMP is back on the schedule of the advisory committee and things are not looking as bleak!

At Sat Dec 09, 07:29:00 AM, Anonymous Sue said…
Committee revives Carrizo talks
David Sneed
A dormant resource advisory committee will meet Jan. 27 to discuss management of the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

It will be the first meeting of the group since it unraveled in 2005 over disagreements about appropriate levels of grazing within the 250,000-acre monument in southeastern San Luis Obispo County.

The nine-member advisory group will hold a daylong meeting starting at 10 a.m. at the Carrisa Elementary School on Highway 58 near Soda Lake Road. A public comment period will be held from 3 to 4 p.m.

The monument is home to an abundance of rare and endangered plants and animals. Former manager Marlene Braun committed suicide in May 2005 citing disagreement over grazing issues with her Bureau of Land Management boss Ron Huntsinger.

The agency has reappointed the advisory panel and is resuming efforts to complete a resource management plan. For more information, call Johna Hurl at (661) 391-6093.

At Sun Jun 10, 07:28:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…
Is it widely known that Huntsinger has only a BS degree in biology from Humboldt. How does this qualify him to be natural resources science coordinator of BLM? Since the natural resources committee of congress is about to meet soon, it might be nice for them to know what kind of hacks BLM hires to establish policy.

A Conservationist’s Suicide

Note: The original newspaper account is still available in the LA Times archives for a fee. It was accompanied by photographs. It appeared on the front page of the Saturday edition. It was the first real coverage of Marlene’s suicide, except for a short paragraph in the San Luis Obispo Tribune, and tributes in environmental magazines. It broke open the issue of the need for a government investigation.

National monument official was distraught at shift she said favored grazing over grasslands

By Julie Cart and Maria L. La Ganga, Times staff writers
Los Angeles Times
August 20, 2005

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.

About 120 miles northwest of Los Angeles, Carrizo Plain National Monument is largely unknown to the outside world. But in Braun’s short tenure as monument manager, the plain had become a battleground between conservationists and the Bush administration over the fate of Western public lands.

What began as a policy dispute — to graze or not to graze livestock on the fragile Carrizo grasslands — became a morass of environmental politics and office feuding that Braun was convinced threatened both her future and the landscape she loved.

A 13-year veteran of the BLM, Braun was torn between the demands of a new boss who she felt favored the region’s ranchers, and conservation policies adopted nearly a decade ago to protecting the austere swath of prairie she shared with pronghorn antelope and peregrine falcons, the California condor and the California jewelflower.

Braun had worked in Alaska and Nevada and had long been committed to preserving the land that was placed in her care. But nothing in her background seemed to foreshadow her fate.

“Marlene was never troubled, as far as I knew,” recalled Sutton Edlich, a friend from graduate school who said he was “absolutely” shocked that Braun killed herself. “She wasn’t a happy-go-lucky person, but was a realist…. She was a complex person.”

In the months leading up to her death in May, Braun lost weight and had trouble sleeping. Doctors prescribed antidepressants and tranquilizers. Friends worried that stress and isolation were taking a toll, but none interpreted her behavior as a sign of despair.

But Braun left behind clues. In her suicide notes, as well as a long chronology of her final year, she laid out her fears for the Carrizo and told how her life had become “utterly unbearable.”

“It’s a big step from feeling bad to wanting to die,” said Dr. Thomas A. Hicklin, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. But he said certain underlying factors can make some people more likely to take their own lives — among them depression and feeling trapped and without options.

Emotionally, Braun was “in a negative environment, with her own passions frustrated, and she’s also depressed,” said Hicklin, who did not treat her. “It’s a bad combination.”

Braun’s suicide is the latest chapter in a century of conflict between cowboys and conservationists in the drought-plagued Southwest, where livestock compete with wildlife for sparse vegetation, and hungry animals can turn grassland into desert.

“It’s important for me to control my destiny in this final act, and I am not afraid to die,” she wrote. “But I am very weary of working, moving and of dealing with conflict over environmental decisions that mean a lot to me.”

Braun wrote those words in an eight-page suicide note that she sent by express mail to her oldest friend, Kathy Hermes, a college history professor in Connecticut.

The note listed Braun’s bank account numbers, information about her life insurance policy and the name of a Realtor who could help Hermes sell property that Braun owned.

She sent a second note to the BLM office in Bakersfield, and authorities found a third near her body, placed on a bench in her rustic frontyard at the Goodwin Ranch. “I have committed suicide,” it said. “This is not a homicide.” On top of the note was Braun’s driver’s license. In her pocket, her organ donor card.

In some ways, the plain is an unlikely battleground. Low-slung and largely treeless, it is a natural resource unlike most others in California — hard to reach, harder to photograph, its beauty less accessible than that of Yosemite or Big Sur.

Far from pristine, the Carrizo’s narrow flatlands have been farmed and grazed for 150 years, the cattle moving alongside giant kangaroo rats, San Joaquin kit foxes and blunt-nosed leopard lizards.

Harsh and elegant, it is a landscape that first evokes respect, then admiration, and finally love. That, at least, is how it was for Braun.

“It’s been over 100F here at the Carrizo for the past few days, and I just filled up a big claw-foot tub in my frontyard, am going to grab a beer and a new book, and start soaking,” she wrote to childhood friend Deb Schmitt last year. “Kingbirds fight and carry on in the tree above the tub, and if I wait until dark, bats and barn owls come out and fly around above me.”

In winter, sandhill cranes swoop along Soda Lake. In spring, the Carrizo hillsides become a riot of wildflowers, their vibrant reds, oranges and purples visible from passing jets. Summers bleach the monument of color, the harsh sunlight scorching grasses to shades of celadon and taupe.

“She told me that sometimes she looked out on the landscape at Carrizo,” recalled Braun’s friend Sharmon Stambaugh, “and if the sun was coming down a certain way — the shadows — the beauty of it hurt her.”

The plain was designated a national monument in the last three days of the Clinton administration, one of several “midnight monuments” slipped in before President Bush took office.

But even before the Carrizo acquired that status, the nonprofit Nature Conservancy and the BLM had been working to preserve the sweeping plain, which contained the remaining 1% of the grasslands that had once blanketed Central California. In the late 1980s, they began cobbling together a public preserve, the Carrizo Plain Natural Area.

By 1996, a partnership consisting of the conservancy, the BLM and the state Department of Fish and Game had completed a management plan to balance ranching and conservation.

The conservancy had transferred most of its holdings to the BLM and agreed to relinquish grazing rights on the condition that the needs of native species take precedence over cattle.

A Sept. 25, 1996, agreement states that “if BLM is no longer able to administer the livestock grazing for the objectives and in the manner described above, the grazing leases will revert” to either Fish and Game or the Nature Conservancy. In a written response, the BLM agreed.

In the years since, the Carrizo Plain’s managers have sought to repair damage from intensive grazing without putting the land off limits to ranchers who depend on it. And that, as Braun found out, is a perilous balancing act.

She was responsible for enforcing the cattle management policy formulated by the three partners. It was also her job to develop a comprehensive plan to guide land-use decisions for the next 20 years.

Braun did not advocate banning cattle from the plain — a patchwork of mostly public land with some areas of private property. But she did believe that more regulation was necessary. Her preference was to survey the condition of the grass each spring before deciding how many cows could forage.

Depending on rainfall the previous winter, Braun let anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand cattle a year graze in the monument, and she stopped some ranchers from grazing any livestock on the valley floor.

Some local ranchers complained that Braun’s management threatened to put them out of business. They said they couldn’t operate if they didn’t know until each spring how many cattle they’d be allowed to put out to pasture.

Carl Twisselman, who used to graze cattle in the monument and now represents ranching interests on one Carrizo advisory group, said Braun’s approach did not afford ranchers any certainty in making decisions critical to their business.

Like many ranchers, he didn’t think grazing was bad for the environment.

“I come from the standpoint that grazing’s good for the plants,” he added.

But not all ranchers shared that view. Irv McMillan, a longtime cattleman and friend of Braun, said that every time he saw her he congratulated her for the improvements she was making.

“She was able to keep the grazing off the bottom land for the last four years,” said McMillan, who did not graze cattle on the plain. “It was an amazing achievement compared to what had happened before it was a monument.”

But Ron Huntsinger, who became Braun’s boss in March 2004, took issue with her approach. After his transfer to the Bakersfield BLM office from New Mexico, he made it clear that ranchers should be allowed to graze under all but the most exceptional circumstances, according to memos, e-mails and interviews with people involved with the Carrizo Plain.

The agreement signed by the BLM obligated both Braun and Huntsinger to manage the plain in the best interests of native species — a responsibility they viewed in very different ways. When it came to the Carrizo Plain, they agreed on only one thing: a deep belief that the other one was wrong.

Braun arrived at the Carrizo at a time when the partnership among the BLM, the conservancy and Fish and Game was beginning to fray.

Despite the 1996 agreement, “there is controversy about levels of grazing use … and the perception that the BLM is reluctant and defensive about altering ‘its’ grazing program on the Carrizo,” Ron Fellows, who preceded Huntsinger in the BLM’s Bakersfield office, wrote in a lengthy memo laying out the situation to Braun when she arrived. “This whole issue is beginning to sour our relationship with [Fish and Game] and is reinforcing our defensive posture on the subject,” he continued. “The issue needs to be resolved.”

Fellows said he hired Braun for the Carrizo job in part because of her reputation as a workaholic — a necessary attribute for someone required to live in one of California’s remotest regions.

As her new boss had anticipated, Braun came into the job charging hard, tearing into a long list of tasks to complete. Early on, in particular, her zeal bowled over her own employees and others in the Bakersfield office.

Compromise was an alien term, especially if Braun thought she was right. Which was almost always.

“She was the right person for the job at the time,” Fellows said. But “she was an angel one day and a devil one day.”

“She left quite a wake,” said Carol Bustos, an administrative officer in the BLM’s Bakersfield office. “With Marlene, it was ‘my way or the highway.’ ”

Soon after her arrival, Braun began working on a resource management plan that would revise the approach to grazing first set out in 1996.

The plan advocated that ranchers’ traditional 10-year grazing permits be phased out, replaced by “free use” permits, with the BLM deciding year to year if the plain’s native plant species were healthy enough to withstand livestock. By early 2003, Braun had a version of the plan ready for review. The managing partners signed on, three advisory groups endorsed the plan and the BLM’s state office approved a draft late that year.

Around the same time, Braun received a cautionary letter from Bob Benneweis, the former superintendent of Yosemite and a longtime member of a Carrizo advisory committee. Beware, he wrote, of the political heft of the area’s longtime cattlemen.

“I do not envy any member of the BLM staff who may act to significantly reduce grazing on the Carrizo, only to feel the wrath of ranchers and their allies,” he wrote.

There was another reason for Braun to be cautious. Officials of the Bush administration had openly sympathized with critics of Clinton’s last-minute monuments. Many of those critics were ranchers, angry at policies that restricted their grazing access to more than 1 million acres in Utah, Arizona and California.

In March 2001, Interior Secretary Gale Norton sent letters to the governors of Utah and Arizona asking what their objections were regarding the monuments.

Under Norton, the BLM began crafting a grazing policy that lifted protections for wildlife and habitat across 161 million acres of public lands in the West, including the Carrizo.

Just as the BLM was embracing its new approach, Fellows retired. Huntsinger, who was then 57, took the job as manager of the Bakersfield field office.

Huntsinger has worked for the BLM for 27 years, moving from Alaska to Washington, D.C., Nevada and Taos, N.M. Although he could be gruff, he had a long record of working collaboratively, according to interviews with people who have known him throughout his career.

But he came to the Carrizo with marching orders that were almost guaranteed to bring him into conflict with Braun. “I was brought in,” he told members of the partnership team, “to fix this plan.”

Within three months of his arrival, Huntsinger announced at a public meeting that the grazing section of the resource management plan was being retooled, giving it what Braun would describe as a more “pro-grazing slant.”

Bob Stafford, a Fish and Game wildlife biologist, said neither Huntsinger nor anyone else in the agency ever gave the partners a reason for what they viewed as such a drastic change. “Other than citing regulations, we don’t know” why the new direction was taken, Stafford said. “We haven’t been given any information.”

Neither Huntsinger nor other BLM officials would discuss the policy dispute or any of the circumstances surrounding Braun’s death.

Braun and Huntsinger feuded almost from the moment he became her boss. He accused her of being insubordinate. She didn’t think he was all that bright. He believed she broadcast private BLM information to people outside the agency with no need to know; she believed he didn’t want to keep the agency’s partners properly informed.

She undercut his authority; he humiliated her in public. She bombarded him with communication. In her view, he either responded with silence or blew up at her.

“Every time I tried to speak, he seemed to view it as talking back to him and responded by yelling at me to not ever do it again,” Braun wrote in a 35-page chronology of their deteriorating relationship.

Early in his tenure, Huntsinger stripped Braun of “almost all my influence on the Plain,” she wrote, handing over authority for the crucial resource management plan to two others who were more “pro-grazing.”

Five months after Huntsinger arrived, she fretted in an e-mail to colleagues, “I … can’t keep fighting indefinitely, I don’t think.” But she added: “Maybe fighting is better than capitulating…. The Carrizo could lose a lot if I give up…. But hell, you only live, and die, once!!!!”

Late last summer, Braun sent an e-mail to the partners in which she tried to set the record straight about several public misstatements she believed Huntsinger had made about federal grazing law. The note ended any hope of a reconciliation.

“I have factual info on the traditional leases that differs considerably from Rons [sic]. He was wrong,” she wrote of Huntsinger in the e-mail, ” … and he is wrong on several technical issues…. I was right.”

She sent the e-mail to her counterparts at Fish and Game and the Nature Conservancy, but somehow Huntsinger got a copy also.

He suspended her for five days without pay.

He said that Braun’s e-mail tended to “degrade” him and that it would damage both his and the BLM’s reputations.

Braun’s conduct, Huntsinger wrote in the notice of suspension, “has diminished my confidence in your ability to properly represent the agency’s position on controversial issues, particularly the issue of grazing management.”

Braun appealed the suspension, which she felt was unduly harsh punishment for a first offense by someone with an exemplary record. She got word Feb. 14 that her appeal had been denied. In retrospect, many of her friends and co-workers point to that day as the moment suicide became a real possibility to her.

The stress took a toll on her health. She was anxious and sleeping poorly. Old friends were shocked to see that Braun, always tall and slender, had lost 40 pounds. One friend who visited her arrived to find no food in the house; the monument manager had been subsisting on pancakes.

The situation was made worse by the medications prescribed by two different doctors who her friends said were not in communication with each other. Hermes, her oldest friend, said Braun was prescribed Klonopin and Ativan, which are generally given for anxiety, and Lexapro and trazodone, both antidepressants. Not only did the drugs provide little relief, they often made Braun insensible and drowsy. Alarmed at her reaction to the medications, Braun eventually scaled back, Hermes said, although her autopsy report showed that Klonopin and trazodone were found in her bloodstream after her death. “I think the last few months of Marlene’s life, when she was going through this and she saw all of her work beginning to slip away, be eroded and be compromised, she became frantic,” said Anne McMahon, who represented the Nature Conservancy on the Carrizo.

Braun spent the first Sunday in March driving and hiking across the plain, checking out pastures that a large group — including the partners, Huntsinger and a clutch of ranchers — would be visiting later in the week to decide where cattle would be allowed to graze.

The day before the pasture tour, Braun sent a memo to the partners outlining her views.

The memo began with a plea — “please do not share this” — then gave a detailed review of the health of plant life on the plain. It ended with a warning: that Huntsinger wanted to weaken protections and “accommodate livestock grazing for its own sake.”

“Don’t let him get away with this without a fight,” she said.

By this time, the Carrizo partners had begun to worry out loud about their own relationship with the BLM — especially since Braun had been dropping hints that she was planning to leave the plain. In an angry e-mail, McMahon reminded the group how hard it was for them to work with Huntsinger and challenged them to do something about Braun’s pending departure.

“The question is, do you want to fight really hard now to keep Marlene, at the risk of really pissing off Ron and damaging the partnership with BLM (a partnership that I would argue is already in serious trouble),” she wrote. “What’s it gonna be?”

What McMahon described as her “Carrizo epiphany” set off an anguished round of communication among the partners. But ultimately they did nothing — even though McMahon urged them in a later missive to take action: “Ron will continue to beat you up every chance he gets until someone acknowledges what the real problem is.”

By April, Braun was giving things away, saying she wouldn’t need them. Documents went to people she thought could use them, books to friends who would actually finish them. At a party that Braun organized in the middle of the month, she was giddy, said Sarah Christie, the Sierra Club’s representative for the Carrizo at the time.

“I was commenting on this rototiller she had,” Christie recounted. “She said, ‘Here, take it.’ I said, ‘What?’ She said, ‘No, take it. I’ll never use it again. Take the gas can too.’ ”

Still, Braun remained in touch with the partners, discussing the plan’s progress. This was galling to Huntsinger. In a curt e-mail on Friday, April 22, he warned her again. “You are to immediately desist from sending e-mail outside the organization on issues related to management of the Carrizo … ” he wrote. “I will discuss this with you on Monday.”

That day, April 25, Huntsinger delivered two more written reprimands that excoriated Braun for communicating with the partners. She told her friends she believed these additional black marks would lead to her firing from the BLM and cause her to be banished from the Carrizo Plain.

“Those memos are the bullets in her brain,” said her friend and executor, Hermes.

The day before her death, Braun forwarded the disciplinary memos to the partners along with a brief, bitter e-mail: “I will no longer be participating in this mess…. I will not take being treated like a whipping girl…. ”

Braun e-mailed the BLM’s Bakersfield office at 9:10 a.m. the day she shot herself. She wrote that she would not be coming to the office that day or any other, because she could not bear to.

She listed the people she wanted to thank. Near the bottom of the note she said she wanted to be an organ donor. It was the only indication that she intended to take her life.

Managers in the Bakersfield office dispatched two agency staffers to make the 90-minute drive to check on Braun. But it was nearly an hour before the BLM alerted the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department to a possible suicide at the Goodwin Ranch.

Although Braun was still breathing when the BLM staff members drove up, said Sheriff’s Det. Steve Harris, she would not have lived even if help had arrived earlier, “not with that injury.”

After Braun was flown by helicopter to a Santa Maria emergency room and sheriff’s deputies had left, the BLM staffers took Braun’s agency-issued desktop and laptop computers without telling law enforcement authorities, Harris said.

“I think it was improper,” he said, adding that his office wrote a letter of complaint to the BLM.

Braun’s family also responded angrily to the BLM’s actions.

“The fact that everything wasn’t done to help Marlene is a real burr in my butt,” said her sister, Phyllis. “If somebody had told me it was my employee … I wouldn’t have wasted my time sending two employees on a two-hour drive.”

Huntsinger repeatedly declined to be interviewed for this article beyond reading a brief statement over the phone. Braun’s death, he said, “is a tragedy in all its aspects.” While its details are “of interest,” he continued, “I think it would be inappropriate for me to discuss them, out of respect for her privacy as well as that of all those affected.”

In her suicide note, Braun blamed Huntsinger for making her life “utterly unbearable.” But some of Huntsinger’s colleagues find it improbable that his actions would have pushed her to take her life.

“If somebody were to say he was responsible for somebody’s death,” said Richard Dworsky, who worked with Huntsinger in the BLM’s Anchorage office, “I would go, ‘Whoa, this is not the human being I know.’ I would have thought that, if he had any opportunity to resolve a problem like that, he would have done anything in his power.”

The BLM’s state office refused to comment for this story beyond issuing a brief statement calling Braun’s death “tragic.”

Three months after Braun’s suicide, the 20-year plan for the Carrizo is still being refined, according to officials in the BLM’s state office in Sacramento, who declined to offer any details. Representatives of the California Department of Fish and Game met with BLM officials in June to smooth out misunderstandings regarding the plan.

Meanwhile, Hermes said she was haunted by her friend’s death. After going through Braun’s belongings, she at first got angry. Then she acted.

She wrote to her Connecticut congressman, John Larson, who requested that Norton investigate the events that led up to Braun’s suicide. A whistle-blowers’ group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, did the same.

The California office of the BLM has undertaken its own management review. The Department of the Interior said it was awaiting the findings of the state’s review before deciding whether to conduct its own investigation.

Braun’s two sisters and her brother have also written to legislators, asking that BLM state officials and Huntsinger be held accountable for her death.

“I know the flaws of my friend. She wasn’t perfect,” said Hermes, eyes brimming.

She said that most of all, Braun would have wanted her friends to continue to fight for the Carrizo. That’s on Anne McMahon’s mind too.

“My biggest concern is the Carrizo needs a champion who will make it their life’s work,” said McMahon. “One person who will devote every waking hour making sure the right decisions are made…. That’s what Marlene was willing to do.”