Pot ‘field study’
The billion dollar marijuana industry in Siskiyou
County is causing
massive destruction to our wilderness environment
By John Martinez, Pioneer Press 8/10/05
SISKIYOU COUNTY – The marijuana eradication season,
yet in full swing,
has already netted hundreds of thousands of plants
statewide. The large
commercial grows are mostly located in rugged
forested terrain within riparian zones.
Caustic fish killing chemical fertilizers litter
pristine riparian creek
beds. Miles upon miles of plastic pipe are scattered
landscapes, California outlawed concentrated
herbicides are running into
sensitive fish habitat. Decaying, poached deer, bird
and bear carcasses
are strewn about. Thousands of RainBirds and pop-up
endangered fish of millions upon millions of gallons
of cool spring
water. Thousands of pounds of garbage litter our
creeks, hundreds of
pounds of pesticides and rat poison are strewn along
the edges of
springs and creeks. Loaded weapons, at the ready,
are poised to kill and
mame human and animal trespassers. Mounds of human
feces are deposited
along our crystal pure creeks.
The above description is what law enforcement
officers and US Forest
Service officials have described to the Pioneer
Press when they enter
commercial marijuana gardens.
“We find rat poison, bug poison, rat traps, and
Crossbow herbicide right
along the creeks,” said Mark Merrill, Marijuana
Supervisor for the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s
The impact is evident and officials are rising up
“Large-scale marijuana cultivation in our forest
lands constitutes a
frontal assault on the environment. These criminals
take no pause in
diverting stream beds, terracing hillsides, and
leaving in their wake
mountains of garbage,” said United States Attorney
McGregor W. Scott.
Siskiyou County District 5 Supervisor Marcia
Armstrong is sounding the
“The pot garden complexes run by Mexican cartels
have the potential of
greatly impacting the environment,” said Armstrong.
“They can affect the
local water quality and quantity available for fish
and farms, create
pits of toxic garbage that must be cleaned up and
pose a risk of fire
danger to our forest communities.”
The environmental impacts of the gardens are
significant as they are
located close to water, Alan Vandiver, the US Forest
Ranger in Happy Camp told the Pioneer Press.
“We can’t estimate the extent of the environmental
impact of these
gardens since we can’t find them all,” said Vandiver.
“Since we don’t
know where most of these gardens are located we
can’t clean them up.”
There are no available studies to determine the
impact of commercial
gardens on fish and wildlife habitat, according to
the US Fish and
“We’re unaware of any studies that link marijuana
cultivation to the
loss of fish and wildlife habitat,” stated John
Field Supervisor for the US Fish and Wildlife
Service in Yreka.
Traditionally, government agencies that influence
public policy and
regulate resource-based industries rely on data and
created by environmental organizations.
On the issue of narcotics production in the national
environmental groups are either silent or avoid the
“That’s not my issue. I don’t know anything about
this issue,” said
Glen Spain, from Pacific Coast Federation of
Fisherman (PCFF) located in
Eugene Oregon. “I don’t know how extensive the
problem is. I know
When asked about the potential that each plant,
located within riparian,
pristine creek beds, may utilize upwards of a pound
or more of man made
industrial chemical fertilizer, Spain commented,
“That’s not my issue.
I know nothing about this. We’re concerned about
When asked about the chemicals warming water to
toxic levels for fish,
Spain stammered, refused to reply and promptly ended
the phone conversation.
A representative of Friends of the River in
Sacramento said, “Wow, I
don’t actually know about that. I don’t know
anybody I could refer you
The California Fish and Game office is not aware of
any study regarding
the environmental impact of large marijuana gardens,
according to Fish
and Game Public Information Officer Steve Martarano.
Petey Brucker’s Klamath Forest Alliance in Orleans
Villeponteaux of the Salmon River Restoration
Council did not return
Pioneer Press requests for a comment.
“Two years ago up Elk Creek above Happy Camp we
found a bag of 46-0-0.
This stuff had red skulls and crossbones all over
it,” said Detective
Merrill. “This stuff goes right into the creeks.
You can’t touch it or
This grow was located on the same creek which the
town of Happy Camp
draws its water.
“Creeks are being used as dumps,” said Merrill.
“They have no respect
for anything. Their bathrooms are right next to the
water and there is
overflow. They are cutting down commercial sized
trees. You see
poached deer and bear.”
The plants average about a gallon of water per plant
per day and perhaps
a pound of high concentrate nitrogen fertilizer,
according to Merrill.
One large grow, according to the numbers provided by
potentially consume 30,000 pounds of chemical
fertilizer and up to 4 and
5 million gallons of water.
The grows “use an excessive amount of water,” said
The commercial marijuana plantation found only a few
weeks ago above the
R-Ranch just off I-5, which included over 30,000
plants, was one such
Large commercial grows have had a presence in
Siskiyou County for years
and they have only recently become a topic of public
upon millions of plants are grown within
California’s forest eco-systems.
The California Department of Justice estimates it is
a six billion
dollar industry statewide. Siskiyou County is not
alone in the face of
the environmental war being waged in our forests.
Our county produces
marijuana with an estimated street value of upwards
to $1 billion.
The official opening date for the eradication season
began August 1,
according to Siskiyou County Sheriff Rick Riggins.
Last year, statewide,
600,000 plants were eradicated. This year, prior to
August 1, more than
300,000 plants were taken out, Riggins said.
“I hope that the State and federal legislatures
increasing trend and ensure that ample budgetary
allocations are made to
support Sheriff Riggins’ efforts to halt this
problem dead in its tracks
here in Siskiyou County,” said Supervisor Armstrong.
One of the largest expenses Riggins faces in
eradication is the flight
time for a helicopter, at $650 per hour. Grants are
not enough to cover
Riggins has invited the U.S. military in to help.
They have volunteered
their assistance if they are available, Riggins told
the Pioneer Press.
The marijuana eradication season turned deadly on
Friday, when a suspect
was shot and killed while a Fish and Game warden was
shot and injured in
a raid in Santa Clara County. Authorities pulled out
50,000 plants in
Riggins has the assistance of many agencies. At the
most recent raid,
Jackson County Sheriff, California Department of
Fish and Game, the
United States Forest Service, California Highway
Patrol joined his
Siskiyou County Task Force, the Sheriff Special
Response Team and the
Marijuana Eradication Team.
Pioneer Press, Fort Jones, CA
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Page A3, Column 1
Permission is granted to reproduced and republished
the following articles.
Word From Webster
By Daniel Webster, Pioneer Press Publisher
Pot ‘field study’
From reading John Martinez’ article on the front
page this week, it
appears that environmental organizations have not
compiled any data as
to the impact large marijuana gardens have on the
environment. He writes
as though the greens have not studied the ecological
with these narcotics plantations.
I will have a talk with Mr. Martinez and make sure
next time he explains
the diligence our green thumb greenies have in
creating real world
In fact, scientists from local environmental
organizations have been
experimenting with large plantations for years. We
might even call them
the pioneers in extrapolated commercial gardening
These have been extensive field based experiments.
give credit where credit is due! In these
experiments the greens place
large quantities of plastic piping in the wilderness
and then try
different types of fertilizers and chemicals to see
what one helps the
plants grow best and what eliminates wildlife in the
We’re talking about 30 years of extensive field
scientific experiment isn’t complete just yet, so
the data from their
test gardens hasn’t yet been turned over to federal
and state officials.
It appears the greenie scientists have merged their
field studies with foreign firms specializing in
distribution of the
final scientific product.
I’m sure when the time is right and the scientific
testing is complete
they will be shocked at what they find. They will
probably even ask
those in elected positions who have advanced due to
research to enact special legislation to help
eliminate this eco-disaster.
I would imagine that the proceeds from their
products will help fund their lobby efforts to get
congress to recognize
So, let me understand this correctly.
Environmentalists have been polluting our forest for
years - decades.
The impact their ecological experiments has on the
wilderness dwarfs any
other uses from local ranchers.
Of course, the catastrophe in our forests, brought
environmentalists was never reported to or by Fish
and Game and the
State Water Quality Control Board.
State agencies have never factored in the ecological
marijuana production has on our water?
State agencies may say they were not aware of
impacts associated with
narcotics production tailings interacting with
water. Is it not their
duty and obligation to take all impacts into account
decisions that directly affect public policy?
But wait, too fast buckaroos . . . Check this out.
It is a matter of public record that state agencies
have taken the
testimony of our region’s largest drug lords.
The state is about to annihilate the water rights of
ranchers, based on testimony of these drug lords.
In fact, it would
appear the drug lords have more say about our water
than hard working
farmers and ranchers.
Is the state culpable and even financially and
criminally liable for
omissions in the course of doing its due diligence?
Will it be held
responsible for bedding down with the drug lords in
a quid pro quo deal
for our water?
The State of California must immediately stop its
encroachment on water
rights of those in the Scott, Shasta and Klamath
River watersheds until
it can come up with the impact marijuana gardens
have on fish and
wildlife within these regions.
The state must be held responsible for any
regulation not taking into
account marijuana production while taking into
account testimony and
statements made by drug lords.
• • •
Is there a reason why “environmental” organizations
shy away from the
impact marijuana gardens have on our eco-system?
In the world of non-profit organizations, it’s never
wise to anger your
So, let’s see now. Farmers are being penalized by
that come from unqualified wet behind the ears and
over the hill too
close to retire to do the right thing scientists
employed by the state.
Narcotics producers have a say in our water while
laughing all the way
to the bank.
Farmers are being made to assume financial and legal
liability based on
“subjective” and “extrapolated” who knows what type
How about this for the Paranoid Press: State law
enforcement is looking
the other way while major narcotics interests are
policy that shuts down the family farm. So, who
will get the water
rights that the farmers are going to lose because of
religious practices masked as “science.”