NorCal pot farmers - YOU SUCK BIG TIME !!!!!!

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Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 27, 2012 - 11:38am PT
Pot farms wreaking havoc on Northern California environment

Burgeoning marijuana growing operations are sucking millions of gallons of water from coho salmon lifelines and taking other environmental tolls, scientists say.

Wildlife technician Aaron Pole surveys a forest trashed by growers. Ca...
Wildlife technician Aaron Pole surveys a forest trashed by growers. Carbofuran, an insecticide lethal to humans in small doses, is found regularly at large-scale pot farms. Also flowing into the watershed are rodenticides, fungicides, diesel fuel and othe
Credit: (Genaro Molina, Los Angeles Times / November 15, 2012)


By Joe Mozingo, Los Angeles Times
December 23, 2012


EUREKA, Calif. State scientists, grappling with an explosion of marijuana growing on the North Coast, recently studied aerial imagery of a small tributary of the Eel River, spawning grounds for endangered coho salmon and other threatened fish.

In the remote, 37-square-mile patch of forest, they counted 281 outdoor pot farms and 286 greenhouses, containing an estimated 20,000 plants mostly fed by water diverted from creeks or a fork of the Eel. The scientists determined the farms were siphoning roughly 18 million gallons from the watershed every year, largely at the time when the salmon most need it.

"That is just one small watershed," said Scott Bauer, the state scientist in charge of the coho recovery on the North Coast for the Department of Fish and Game. "You extrapolate that for all the other tributaries, just of the Eel, and you get a lot of marijuana sucking up a lot of water. This threatens species we are spending millions of dollars to recover."

The marijuana boom that came with the sudden rise of medical cannabis in California has wreaked havoc on the fragile habitats of the North Coast and other parts of California. With little or no oversight, farmers have illegally mowed down timber, graded mountaintops flat for sprawling greenhouses, dispersed poisons and pesticides, drained streams and polluted watersheds.

Because marijuana is unregulated in California and illegal under federal law, most growers still operate in the shadows, and scientists have little hard data on their collective effect. But they are getting ever more ugly snapshots.

A study led by researchers at UC Davis found that a rare forest carnivore called a fisher was being poisoned in Humboldt County and near Yosemite in the Sierra Nevada.

The team concluded in its July report that the weasel-like animals were probably eating rodenticides that marijuana growers employ to keep animals from gnawing on their plants, or they were preying on smaller rodents that had consumed the deadly bait. Forty-six of 58 fisher carcasses the team analyzed had rat poison in their systems.

Mark Higley, a wildlife biologist on the Hoopa Indian Reservation in eastern Humboldt who worked on the study, is incredulous over the poisons that growers are bringing in.

"Carbofuran," he said. "It seems like they're using that to kill bears and things like that that raid their camps. So they mix it up with tuna or sardine, and the bears eat that and die."

The insecticide is lethal to humans in small doses, requires a special permit from the EPA and is banned in other countries. Authorities are now regularly finding it at large-scale operations in some of California's most sensitive ecosystems.

It is just one in a litany of pollutants seeping into the watershed from pot farms: fertilizers, soil amendments, miticides, rodenticides, fungicides, plant hormones, diesel fuel, human waste.

Scientists suspect that nutrient runoff from excess potting soil and fertilizers, combined with lower-than-normal river flow due to diversions, has caused a rash of toxic blue-green algae blooms in the North Coast rivers over the last decade.

The cyanobacteria outbreaks threaten public health for swimmers and kill aquatic invertebrates that salmon and steelhead trout eat. Now, officials warn residents in late summer and fall to stay out of certain stretches of water and keep their dogs out. Eleven dogs have died from ingesting the floating algae since 2001.

The effects are disheartening to many locals because healthier salmon runs were signaling that the rivers were gradually improving from the damage caused by more than a century of logging.

"Now with these water diversions, we're potentially slamming the door on salmon recovery," said Scott Greacen, director of Friends of the Eel River.

In June, Bauer and other agency scientists accompanied game wardens as they executed six search warrants on growers illegally sucking water from tributaries of the Trinity River. At one, he came upon a group of 20-somethings with Michigan license plates on their vehicles, camping next to 400 plants. He followed an irrigation line up to a creek, where the growers had dug a pond and lined it with plastic.

"I started talking to this guy, and he says he used to be an Earth First! tree-sitter, saving the trees," Bauer said. "I told him everything he was doing here negates everything he did as an environmentalist."

The man was a small-timer in this new gold rush. As marijuana floods the market and prices drop, many farmers are cultivating ever bigger crops to make a profit. They now cut huge clearings for industrial-scale greenhouses. With no permits or provisions for runoff, the operations dump tons of silt into the streams during the rainy season.

Scanning Google Earth in his office recently, Bauer came upon a "mega grow" that did not exist the year before a 4-acre bald spot in the forest with 42 greenhouses, each 100 feet long.

Figuring a single greenhouse that size would hold 80 plants, and each plant uses about 5 gallons of water a day, he estimated the operation would consume 2 million gallons of water in the dry season and unleash a torrent of sediment in the wet season.

"There has been an explosion of this in the last two years," he said. "We can't keep up with it."

Every grow has its own unique footprint. Some farmers on private land avoid pesticides and poisons, get their water legally, keep their crops small and try to minimize their runoff. Urban indoor growers might not pollute a river, but they guzzle energy. A study in the journal Energy Policy calculated that indoor marijuana cultivation could be responsible for 9% of California's household electricity use. Other producers, like the Mexican drug trafficking groups who set up giant grows on public lands right next to mountain streams, spread toxins far and wide and steal enough water to run oscillating sprinkler systems.

But it's not just the big criminal groups skirting the rules. Tony LaBanca, senior environmental scientist at Fish and Game in Eureka, said less than 1% of marijuana growers get the permits required to take water from a creek, and those who do usually do it after an enforcement action.

Responsible growers could easily get permits, with no questions asked about what type of plant they're watering, LaBanca said. They just need to be set up to take their water in the wet season and store it in tanks and bladders.

Fish and Game wants to step up enforcement, but the staff is overwhelmed, he said. The agency has 12 scientists and 15 game wardens in the entire four counties on the North Coast, covering thousands of mountainous square miles.

Until the last few years, dealing with marijuana cultivation was usually a minor issue. Now, LaBanca said, it is "triage."

On a recent day, Higley, the Hoopa wildlife biologist, took a reporter and photographer to some of the damage he finds in the most remote mountains, where bears, fishers, martens, rare salamanders and spotted owls live in cloud-mist forests. With his colleague Aaron Pole at the wheel, Higley headed north up the Bigfoot Highway and then up a dirt logging road 13 miles into the snow-peaked Trinities.

They were going to a grow that the sheriff had raided by helicopter in August. Deputies cut down 26,600 plants in eight interconnected clearings along Mill Creek, which flows into the Trinity River.

They parked the truck and started threading down precipitous slopes, through thick wet brush and forest. They stepped over bear scat, slippery roots and coastal giant salamanders.

Crossing a 2-foot-wide creek, they came across a black irrigation line. Vague footpaths emerged, empty Coors cans began glinting in the mud, more water pipes spidered out.

After another 40 minutes, they reached a clearing in the bottom of the canyon a field of stumps, holes of dark potting soil and hacked-down stalks of marijuana. Dead gray brush and logs ringed the site. A few heavily pruned trees were left standing, to help mask the marijuana grove from the air.

Deputies had severed the irrigation lines during the August raid, but when Higley returned in September to study the environmental impact, some of the line had been reconnected to sprinklers and plants had re-sprouted. He saw a wet bar of soap on an upturned bucket and realized workers were hiding nearby.

On this return visit, the site was empty, and he started picking through the rubbish. "That's d-CON rat poison right there, 16 trays."

At a dump pile next to the creek, he found propane tanks, more rat poison, cans of El Pato tomato sauce, and empty bags of Grow More fertilizer, instant noodles and tortillas.

A lot of the trash had been removed during the sheriff's eradication dozens of empty bags accounting for 2,700 pounds of fertilizer and boxes for 10 pounds of d-CON (enough to kill 21 spotted owls and up to 28 fishers), as well as two poached deer carcasses and the remains of a state-protected ringtailed cat.

"It wouldn't matter if they were growing tomatoes, corn and squash," he said. "It's trespassing, it's illegal and it borders on terrorism to the environment."

joe.mozingo@latimes.com


Copyright 2012, Los Angeles Times

Pot Farm Eco Disaster

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

The local sheriffs are sh!t scared - I say turn the 82nd Airborne loose on 'em.

10b4me

Boulder climber
Somewhere on 395
Dec 27, 2012 - 11:44am PT
Yeah, that's f*#ked up
Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Dec 27, 2012 - 11:48am PT
The local sheriffs are sh!t scared - I say turn the 82nd Airborne loose on 'em

Local shefiffs ain't "scared", they just know where the money that makes their little burgs function comes from.

Legalize it and all those covert grows go away. Much easier to plant some flat acres in the central valley than sneaking around the forest. MJ prohibition is one of the most idiotic, ineffective things we do.
Sioux Juan

Big Wall climber
Costa mesa
Dec 27, 2012 - 11:49am PT
hydroponics only........did I spell that right?
mechrist

Gym climber
South of Heaven
Dec 27, 2012 - 11:55am PT
If it weren't for the risk of losing their homes, I'm guessing most stoners would much rather grow their own.

Thank god the government protects us from that evil plant... and allows easy access to semiautomatic weapons so we can protect ourselves fro the zombie apocalypse. USA USA USA
pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
Dec 27, 2012 - 11:58am PT
there should be a thread about how much sh#t the moonshiners leave behind.
read this article in last weeks times.
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Dec 27, 2012 - 12:25pm PT
Make it Legal.

Simple solution.

Ill grow my own.

And spend my $$$$$ on climbing gear.

Maybe have enuf to travel overseas.

Heyzeus

climber
Hollywood,Ca
Dec 27, 2012 - 12:38pm PT
This companion article also sheds some light on the comments upthread:
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-north-coast-pot-20120930,0,3089567,full.story

mainly that the loosening of mj law is driving the mom-and-pops growers out of business, and they are the ones who's pot money supports the sheriff, schools, fire dept. etc.

Make it legal and RJ Reynold's et al will be growing in the central valley and the Northern Coast will suffer mightily.
locker

Social climber
state of Kumbaya...
Dec 27, 2012 - 12:41pm PT


"Thank god the government protects us from that evil plant... and allows easy access to semiautomatic weapons" and ALCOHOL...

;-)

Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Dec 27, 2012 - 01:14pm PT
It makes me think the Bigfoot sightings in that region are pot growers in disguise.
hooblie

climber
from out where the anecdotes roam
Dec 27, 2012 - 01:53pm PT
i CAN'T STAND it:

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/934012/not-willing-to-relinquish-this-land

glad the the OP article highlights about the enviro-atrocities so well.
that angle should leave no demographic unperturbed
moosedrool

Trad climber
lost, far away from Poland
Dec 27, 2012 - 02:19pm PT
I have never used marihuana, but I voted for legalization. The same with other drugs. The war with drugs will not end until there is no incentive in selling them. I don't like those choices, but there is no other way.
Prod

Trad climber
Dec 27, 2012 - 02:23pm PT
Legalize it and all those covert grows go away. Much easier to plant some flat acres in the central valley than sneaking around the forest. MJ prohibition is one of the most idiotic, ineffective things we do.

+1.

Prod.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Dec 27, 2012 - 02:28pm PT
Ha-ha-ha-ha!

Don't blame the pot growers. Put the blame where it really belongs - on the pot smokers.
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Dec 27, 2012 - 04:52pm PT
I think it's doubly ironic that when well-intentioned environmentalists succeeded in creating a huge environmental preserve in Castle Rock State Park along the headwaters of the San Lorenzo River, they also made the same area into an ideal location for commercial marijuana cultivation. Hence, while keeping climbers out of that area, they in effect made it into a dumping ground for all the debris and environmental pollutants associated with growing pot on a grand scale. Now, State Park Rangers are too scared to patrol that area because of all the pot watchers armed with AR-15s. The so-called nature preserve has in effect become a lawless free-fire war zone. The nature preserve concept would work of course if everyone in our society were eco-freaks and nature nazis living in upscale Monte Sereno and Los Gatos. Unfortunately in our current upstairs/downstairs society, there are also a class of people known as "criminals" who don't give a rat's ass about endangered salamanders and frogs.
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Dec 27, 2012 - 05:35pm PT
Buy local folks.
locker

Social climber
state of Kumbaya...
Dec 27, 2012 - 05:36pm PT


Better yet, grow your own...

;-)

mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Dec 27, 2012 - 05:38pm PT
In the case of this clean-up, they are picking up potential targets--bottles and cans, while (maybe) presenting themselves as targets for the local growers, maybe. It's a shame the f*#kers think pot is so worth the risk they'd shoot someone's kids for it. But they would and they will.

Are there instances of kids getting blasted by pot farmers? It seems likely.

http://www.goodkarmaforall.org/2012/04/audubon-birds-of-prey-center-lake.html#!/2012/04/audubon-birds-of-prey-center-lake.html
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Dec 27, 2012 - 05:47pm PT
As some of you may know, I'm very active with a trail maintenance group....but we also have a division that works on restoring pot farms, after the weed has been removed by LEO's.

We take out all the stuff that has been taken into the backcountry, usually in huge cargo nets under helicopters. For a typical grow site, there are miles of irrigation tubing, and literally TONS of trash.

I am frequently astonished by the volume of stuff that has been dragged in by hand to locations that you need to be a mountain goat to access.

At times, we have needed to wear full Hazmat suits to safely operate. A lot of chemicals.

I believe we've cleaned up over 500 sites in the last 8 years.
Tami

Social climber
Canada
Dec 27, 2012 - 05:56pm PT
These grows exist because someone sees it as a viable way to make money.

Since the product in question is illegal, legalization would theoretically go towards diminishing these illegal grows.

I'm not entirely convinced, however, that full legalization and regulation will, in fact, eliminate these grows. As long as there is a monetary benefit to the grow - then it will happen.

I think of marijuana along the same lines as tomatoes. People grow them in home & community gardens but also purchase the fruit from stores.

I feel that in order to stop these illegal grows, the drug must be made legal but it must also be made cheap.

If there's little money in growing it.......it will become less of a commodity.

My 2c. And I'm not a weed-smoker.
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