Ten years ago, a tragic car accident cut short the exemplary life of Carla Marise Bard. We wish to remember and honor this incredible woman, this devoted and loving mother and grandmother, this trusted friend and coworker, and, most of all, this tireless and passionate defender of the environment.
Carla devoted more than five decades of her life to social and environmental activism. She was called a “citizen warrior” who armed herself with the facts, remained true to her convictions, and stood toe-to-toe with special interest groups. “It is entirely appropriate for some organizations to negotiate and conciliate,” she once said. “But unless there are also organizations and people like me who remain hard-line, the negotiators have no leverage.”
Carla is best remembered as the first woman to chair California’s State Water Resource Control Board. She brought a unique blend of friendly and eloquent tenacity as she championed the environment. Although there were many who opposed her views, her relentless persistence and style forced the state to deal with tough water issues, such as the contamination of the Kesterson Wildlife Refuge. She battled for the San Joaquin River and personally filed a petition with the State Water Board seeking to restore flows and salmon to the river.
With such commitment, it is not surprising that four environmental organizations Carla was closely involved with established memorial awards in her name in recognition of her advocacy and leadership. We know she would be so proud of these awards, and would love to have met the many wonderful advocates who have been inspired by her example. At the time of her accident, she was working for the Environmental Defense Center of Santa Barbara, one of her favorite environmental advocacy organizations.
Carla was a person full of life. She was intelligent and fearless. In any room, at any meeting, she commanded attention with her wit and grace, with her colorful and unique attire-always a silk scarf or woven shawl, and her trademark butterfly necklace. “She was all grit and glamour,” a colleague once said. No doubt, if she were alive today, at age 79, Carla would still be fighting tenaciously for water quality, pesticide control, wetlands protection, and free-flowing rivers, and for agricultural and open-space protection.
We miss you, Carla. You’re in our thoughts and our hearts every day. Your memory as a devoted friend and mother, and as one who worked tirelessly to improve the world, lives on. Your energy and enormous capacity to do the right thing and to right the wrongs is sorely missed, but your achievements continue to be a source of inspiration to others. We will never forget the countless big and small things you did for us to improve and enrich our lives. The world is not the same without you. We will never forget you. We will always love you.