When recreational marijuana was legalized in California in 2018, U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott announced that his concerns won’t lie within the recreational market, but rather the massive marijuana grows in the dense wilderness of federal lands in Northern California.
Instead of arresting for marijuana possession, the government opted to go after illegal marijuana growers that are trashing local public lands and recent cleanups in Far Northern California confirms their new focus.
Between April 2nd and 12th, the Integral Ecology Research Center joined the Fish and Wildlife, the US Forest Service, and a crew from the California Conservation Corps to remove 4,645 pounds of trash from seven illegal marijuana sites in the Klamath National Forest.
The grow sites were all located in the Three Creeks/Tinkham Creek area of the Klamath River watershed on National Forest land and included 6.7 miles of large, plastic irrigation piping.
The largest problem with these cleanups is the giant plastic pipes the marijuana cultivators use to illegally transport water to their sites. Packing up the piping and putting it in landfills presents officials with quite an environmental dilemma. The only place to recycle these pipes is a facility in Southern California.
The agencies identified nine different species that were affected by these shoddy grow sites, including the northern spotted owl, foothill yellow-legged frog, bald eagle and steelhead trout. There were five watersheds affected by the sites, which all drain into the Klamath River.