The Elder Creek Center for the Land–now the Elder Creek Oak Woodland Preserve–was founded in 2012 by Marie and Brien Brennan with a goal of normalizing land care practices that align with evolutionary processes in the watershed and bigger region, which simply means to work with nature, not against it. Our evolution from Center to Preserve matches our personal evolution about living in place and being responsible to the land we are fortunate enough to call home. A fire on the Preserve in June, 2015 helped clarify our inclination to give more energy to the land.
By our best analysis, populations of many native plant and animal species in our region are below ten percent of what they were only 175 years ago. Due to degenerative land management practices caused by an extractive and wasteful economic system, the soil health and water cycles are on a fast track to desertification, the threat of widespread high-severity fire is ever increasing and the life around us–including ourselves–is poisoned with hundreds to thousands of industrial chemicals. These crises, both here in our region and globally, motivate our work to save the life we love and our promotion of an immediate transition towards a local and sustainable human culture.
Two fundamental questions are at the core of our approach to life: How do we live right here, with the state of the land as it is right now, in a way that does not deplete the “resources” of our locale or any other? Can we live in a way that actually benefits these “resources” for future inhabitants, both human and nonhuman?
Brien Brennan grew up on a small cattle farm in rural Virginia, moved out west in 1988 and to the Elder Creek watershed in 2003. His passionate quest for how to live sustainably brought him here with a vision of a typical semi-self sufficient homestead (solar power, natural building, organic gardening, etc.). By 2008, observation of the land helped him realize that his vision was completely incompatible with living sustainably in this region. As of 2010, he has devoted most of his time to researching, planning and implementing the regenerative land care practices outlined on this site, as well as others.
Marie Brennan grew up in the Central Valley’s Delta with summers spent in Mount Shasta. Elder Creek, a place with aspects of both these worlds, is the land she is now devoted to. Being a parent and witnessing the deterioration of land in the North Valley fueled her desire to take action for the future of the living world, now manifesting through her work with Brien at the Preserve. She has also been a professional artist for many years with a focus on imagery that connects people with the native plant and animal species of their region.