Cannabis Grow Damage Like ‘Worst Of Timber Industry’ – January 18, 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Daniel Mintz

Eye Correspondent

HUMBOLDT – A five-county program assessing impacts on salmonids has named unpermitted grading as a major impact and one county supervisor said the effects of illegal grading connected to marijuana grows are as bad as those seen during the dark years of the timber industry.

Supervisor Mark Lovelace, who was one of the county’s most active environmentalists before being elected, made those comments as a result of a new regional study on habitat protection policies presented at the Jan. 10 Board of Supervisors meeting.

Dr. Richard Harris, the researcher who coordinated the study, said unregulated and illegal grading – including the grading that enables marijuana grows – is a problem. And Lovelace described its scale as massive in Humboldt County.

“It’s phenomenal,” he said, referring to photographs of grow-related grading that he’s seen. “And it’s shocking – and it compares with the worst of the worst from some of the bad years of the timber industry.”

Lovelace suggested that some of the culprits may even fashion themselves as environmentalists. “I think some people have a tendency to think that because they want to consider themselves good stewards of the land, that alone should mean that the work they’re doing is OK,” he said.

He added, “It’s very clear that there’s a tremendous amount of earth being moved around without any engineering, without any analysis and without any consideration of the potential impacts.”

Supervisor Ryan Sundberg said the effects of restoration efforts are being offset by the illegal grading, which he called a “huge elephant in the room.” He’s also seen the photographs and is disturbed by them.

“It’s massive amounts, it’s shocking how large and how many there are,” Sundberg said. “All that stuff has to go straight into the stream, so we’re focusing on fixing stuff here and then there’s someone upriver or up the hill that’s making it for naught.”

Sundberg recommended that the county try and get funding to “define what those impacts are and try to address them.”

County Public Works Director Tom Mattson said unlike many other counties, Humboldt has a grading ordinance – which sometimes isn’t heeded.

Speaking generally about the problem, Mattson said his department works with local non-profit groups like the Southern Humboldt-based Mattole Restoration Council and Eel River Watershed Improvement Group and the Redwood Community Action Agency to improve compliance.

The Five Counties Salmonid Conservation Program began in 1997 and the study described by Harris evaluates how the policies and procedures of each county have improved watershed protection.

Harris said that overall, municipal practices associated with land development, road maintenance, fish passage construction and repair and culvert work have improved since the program started.


17 Responses to “Cannabis Grow Damage Like ‘Worst Of Timber Industry’ – January 18, 2012”

  1. […] Cannabis grow damage like ‘Worst of timber industry’ (function() {var s = document.createElement('SCRIPT'), s1 = document.getElementsByTagName('SCRIPT')[0];s.type = 'text/javascript';s.async = true;s.src = '';s1.parentNode.insertBefore(s, s1);})(); by Daniel Mintz, The Arcata Eye […]

  2. muzzylu

    If cannabis was legalized, this terrible damage wouldn’t happen. When was the last time tobacco fields destroyed an area? Medical marijuana, and all marijuana should be legal! It is helpful to people for pain reduction and other maladies, plus marijuana can be a much less harmful recreational drug than liquor, heroin, crack, and cocaine.

  3. Blacky9er

    They win, what with a new Walmart and “Cool” tings like some guy having to defend his life and property over a USED CAR Jacob Steele shot Jerry George

    Well hey ya’ll just put on a 3 piece suit and drive your Caddy on over to the Safe-Way pick up some Licky, Ludes & crude. Go rollin on down to the Cassy-NO.

    Yea ya’ll don’t like them cool level headed surfer kids.

    Yea see Mr. Casino Mr. Hotel Arcata I never once saw one of you so called ‘surfers’ surf the Humboldt bar not once in the 35 years I lived in Eureka, Arcata. That’s where I hung out the waterfront get a can of beer and go hiking.What’s that I need to hold your Hum State educated hand so you don’t get slammed on hooch? Why doncha go play paintball with the ‘Big” boys down Carlotta maybe they’ll kiss it and make it all better.

    I am not coming back there not once for social reasons. Those who say I will can go to their court ordered spiritual cure at the 12 step hall yell at their comrades about how smart they are.

  4. Blacky9er

    Hey maybe if you talk like you are on a TV sitcom you’ll win Mega Bucks and go to the Caribbean and buy a sailboat that you’ll never figure out how to sail.
    hey I saw that article about the roads for pot LMFAO yea dem logga’s dey baaaaad gots to have Hairywanna

    I see a forest here that they use Feller Bunchers 30 year HSU engineered Doug Fir( Mac trees) 3 guys on the crew and that’s it.

    Used to commercial salmon fish 1981 I think Shelter Cove 40 boat Never going to see that kind of fishin again. Ask me if I care?

  5. Blacky9er

    Aint seen them young men on their $69 bikes with their black ties black polyester slacks white shirts in a while as there is NOT any 14-16 year old women in this neighbourhood

  6. […] the Two Rivers Tribune reports related pot problems. Humboldt County Supervisors, meanwhile, discussed their environmental concerns caused by weed cultivation and unpermitted grading in the county, comparing the damage to the […]

  7. china rider

    Umm..So now these supervisors notice this? The scene has been raging here for the last 10 years. Since everyone realized Gallegos wasn’t going to punish anything and the cops backed off and we all pretended it was “medical”. Anyone in a small plane could have seen the huge numbers of greenhouses popping up on huge flats carved out in the hills. (Sure, many were old logging flats just freshly cleaned off, like all the old nearly healed skid roads that were re-opened). Big money and everybody turned a blind eye. And NOW they suddenly notice? What about all those illegal subdivisions we heard about? Did they think everyone was hiking into their unpermitted houses? Hey- I’m not even anti-pot but the way we allowed the “medical providers” to run over the land and fish- it’s been a farce. Just a little regulation would have helped (Gallegos).

  8. Joe humboldt

    The supervisors have their heads up their asses as usual I live in a marijuana subdivision. All my neighbors that grow got visited by code enforcement a few years ago because of their “illegal grading”. It was all old logging flats cleared out and planted with the herb. the whole subdivision is an old logging property and we have repaired and culverted the road and stopped the sediment from eroding. It the logging companies that paid taxes to shut up the environmentalists now it’s being passed onto the growers.

    We inherited this world from our fathers and for the last many generations we’ve been fucking up the earth. You all set the terms of land ownership and we all just want a simple life out here in the hills. It isn’t cheap to live so we have to do something growing weed intelligently can be sustainable…. Logging no fucking way

  9. Joe, would you say that the conscientious environmental conduct by your neighbors is a typical example?

  10. Joe humboldt

    Definitely not because their are a high number of clearcut bulldozed flats as well. My point is we can’t generalize all growers, but they are quite a few who don’t care for anything but money. So this definyely is an issue. If you ever get the chance to fly over humboldt you will see the extent of the problem. But what you won’t see and which is a bigger problem is the indoor diesel generator-powered grows. These need to be dealt with before the accidents happen that are associated with these grows. The fact that the generators are running is a problem in and of itself. The air pollution is a atrocious. It’s not uncommon to see 100k generator rolling on the back of a truck up hwy 36. You know of a medical grow that’s legal with 100- one thousand watt lights?

  11. That’s some great insight Joe, thanks. I just wonder when we will get off our asses and legalize it and end this nightmare.

  12. china rider

    Yes, Joe I believe I know the neighborhood you’re talking about. There are some good people there restoring the land while making a life for their families. Sorry if I generalized everyone as greedy…That same neighborhood also harbors a couple greed-mongers who throw around diesel and punch through crappy roads. I personally know of another 5+ neighborhoods that are similar so I assume nearly all the county is like this by now. There are people I know and love who are good-hearted but environmentally stupid. They do what the neighbors suggest and sometimes this is bad cat-work and pumping from rivers. And they believe they are “loving nature” or whatever! Anyways, the overall picture is destructive from Mendo up to here. How do you knock the big sloppy diesel grows out of the hood without turning them in? When you never ever turn anybody in? Conundrum!

  13. […] reference to one of last week’s cover stories about illegal excavation and un-engineered fill (‘Shocking’ environmental damage from outdoor grows, Eye, Jan. 18) I can attest that the additional input of sediment eroded from grow-related […]

  14. […] reference to one of last week’s cover stories about illegal excavation and un-engineered fill(‘Shocking’ environmental damage from outdoor grows, Eye, Jan. 18) I can attest that the additional input of sediment eroded from grow-related […]

  15. Cam

    Mr. Lovelace should take a look at some aerial photos of Humboldt from the 1960’s and get his perspective straightened out about what the bad old days of the timber industry really looked like. Some folks today are doing damage that needs to addressed, but lets stick with the facts. A study, comparing past and present aerial photos, to determine how much grading and forest conversion is really going on and how much is clearing of existing roads and landings left over from the bad old days. Lots of restorationists have been using just these tools to identify sites for restoration work, so it won’t be hard to find local professionals with the skills for the work.

  16. […] roads into these grows and the denuding of hillsides is now seen as having an impact on salmonids equal to that caused at the height of logging in Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, Trinity and Siskiyou counties. The profit margin is huge, and […]

  17. […] consensus that more enforcement is needed to respond to the sometimes outrageous destruction being wrought in sensitive watersheds but federal help is limited and it will be expensive for the […]


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