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For those who want to quit smoking marijuana, they can always go to marijuana rehabilitation centers and go through the treatment process.

Marijuana eco-disaster, followed by 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 environmentally sensitive
forested terrain within  riparian zones.

Caustic fish killing chemical fertilizers litter pristine riparian creek
beds. Miles upon miles of plastic pipe are scattered across forested
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 sprinklers rob
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 Eradication Team
Supervisor for the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department.

The impact is evident and officials are rising up and screaming.

“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 Service District
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
Wildlife Service.

“We’re unaware of any studies that link marijuana cultivation to the
loss of fish and wildlife habitat,” stated John Hamilton, assistant
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 scientific models
created by environmental organizations.

On the issue of narcotics production in the national forests, however,
environmental groups are either silent or avoid the issue.
“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 fish.”

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
to either.”

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 and  Jim
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
breath it.”

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 Merrill, could
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 Martarano.
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 interest.  Millions
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 recognize this
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
this expense.

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
the raid.

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
pioneerp@sisqtel.net  530-468-5355
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 disaster associated
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
scientific studies.

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 techniques.

These have been extensive field based experiments.  Please, Martinez
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 area.

We’re talking about 30 years of extensive field testing. Their
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 tightly controlled
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 their profitable
research to enact special legislation to help eliminate this eco-disaster.

I would imagine that the proceeds from their scientific experimental
products will help fund their lobby efforts to get congress to recognize
their plight.

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 about by
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 impact large
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 when making
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 farmers and
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
funding sources.

So, let’s see now.  Farmers are being penalized by environmental laws
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 of unfounded
environmental “models.”

How about this for the Paranoid Press:  State law enforcement is looking
the other way while major narcotics interests are influencing water
policy that shuts down the family farm.  So, who will get the water
rights that the farmers are going to lose because of environmental
religious practices masked as “science.”




Page Updated: Thursday January 27, 2011 04:22 AM  Pacific

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