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The gravelly surface of Marron Valley Road crunches underfoot as Brailsford walks to the concrete recycling yard. It’s 4:30 p.m.; the trucks have stopped for the day. About a mile south of her house, she comes to a gate on the left side of the road. A metal placard on the gate bears the name and phone number of Whillock Contracting, an El Cajon outfit. Walking around the gate and along a rough dirt road carved out of a hillside, she comes to the concrete dumping site, a wide area graded into a hillside looming over the south side of the valley. Two articulating skip loaders, their wheels nearly six feet tall, stand next to a pile of concrete covering an area about half the size of a football field and averaging seven or eight feet high. “Why did this have to be done here, where everybody in the valley can see it? I am all for recycling — it is fabulous — but maybe, even on this very road, I could find a better place to be recycling it than up here on the top where every single person in here can see it.”

Brailsford is also suspicious of the timing. “The same week those guys told me the road would be widened 60 feet we just happened to have a yard filled with road debris.”

Tory Whillock, who answers the phone at Whillock Contracting but refuses to give his work title there, says the concrete comes from houses burned in the recent Harris Fire. Asked if the concrete will be used for any widening projects on Marron Valley Road, Whillock laughs. “No, it will be ground up and used in rebuilding projects in the area. And I expect us to be done and out of there in five or six months.”

As Brailsford walks back to her house, the setting sun colors the hills shades of pink, and the cold January wind does the same to her cheeks. She smiles at the sight of Sedeka, her Korean jindo dog, chasing rabbits in the field alongside the road. It’s clear she loves this valley. “If this road were widened 60 feet,” she says, “it would ruin this area. It would absolutely ruin it.”

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