Forest Pot Grows Bring Range Of Destruction – August 31, 2012

Friday, August 31, 2012

Photos released Thursday by Humboldt County Third District Supervisor Mark Lovelace show illegal grading and cultivation in the mountains of Humboldt County. Stated Lovelace:
“On Wednesday, August 29th, I took a flight with 3 Department of Fish & Game officers to get a look at the scale and impact of marijuana grows in some of our watersheds. Without trying too hard, we were able to count 125 grows in the Van Duzen, 222 in the Mad River and Maple Creek, 82 in the Titlow Hill area and 10 in upper Jacoby Creek. Some appeared to be no different than a small farm, but far too many showed evidence of illegal and unpermitted clearcutting, grading, road building and water diversions. Regardless of their size and other differences, they all use precious water from these impoverished creeks and rivers, some of which now run dry in places. I should add the caveat, of course, that from the air it’s not possible to know for sure what is being grown inside any of these greenouses. Then again, the product being grown is not the issue; nor does it matter whether marijuana is being grown for medical purposes. What’s inside doesn’t change the impacts that are apparent.”

Daniel Mintz

Eye Correspondent

HUMBOLDT – A senior environmental scientist from the state’s Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has told county supervisors that there’s a regional “gold rush mentality” but its bounty isn’t gold, it’s medical marijuana.

He said unpermitted activities related to cultivation on private property are causing environmental problems.

The Board of Supervisors got another briefing on the destructive effects of unpermitted marijuana-growing activities at its Aug. 21 meeting. But the focus of this presentation was on medical marijuana production on private property.

Tony LaBanca of the DFG said cultivation has increased since medical marijuana was legalized. “I’m not speaking about cartel-sized grows today, I’m focusing on something that is much more on a rapid growth – what we like to refer to in our office as a ‘gold rush mentality’ here on the North Coast,” he told supervisors.

It’s not about “clandestine” backwoods grows on public lands, he continued. “These folks are in our front country, on private lands,” he said, adding that medical marijuana legalization has “allowed a new type of situation.”

Showing a series of aerial Google Earth images, LaBanca explained that private property grows are sucking water out of streams and rivers. A map of southern Mendocino County featured a pervasive cluster of dots and squares described by LaBanca as grow areas and greenhouses.

Watershed areas near Willits “provide water to the south fork of the Eel River in Humboldt County – that water is being intercepted in the headwaters of the south fork of the Eel,” he said. “We should be concerned about water being diverted prior to it getting to our location.”

Municipal water sources also provide marijuana irrigation, he continued. Projecting a Google Earth photo of southern Redway, LaBanca pointed out numerous orchard-like gardens which he said weren’t there the year before the photo was taken, suggesting annual crops of marijuana.

“This location takes water out of the south fork of the Eel,” LaBanca continued. “They have a water company in Redway which takes water and uses it for these types of domestic uses, agricultural uses.”

He said there’s been a puzzling recent trend – low river flows are being noted in wet years. While LaBanca acknowledged that numerous factors could be relevant, he said diverting water in summer and fall months is a problem and a 10,000 square foot outdoor marijuana grow uses 250,000 gallons of water in a five-month growing season.

Lack of screening on water diversion siphons causes juvenile fish deaths, he continued, and some grows are ripe with various types of pollution. “Concrete, fertilizers and other petrochemicals, trash, debris – all kinds of things are deposited in streams and near streams,” he said.

Another concern is use of “killing agents” – herbicides, pesticides and rodenticides. Rodent poisons have meat products that also attract predators and LaBanca said his agency is noting second-hand poisoning of fishers, martens, spotted owls and bob cats that have eaten poisoned rodents.

The state invests in restoration projects to benefit salmon and endangered predators like the spotted owl, he continued. “And what’s happening to them? We’re seeing them have another impact from another direction.”

Photos courtesy Supervisor Mark Lovelace

Showing more photos, LaBanca added that unpermitted road grading and forest clearing in grow areas has led to sediment loading and loss of riparian cover.

The DFG will work with growers on permitting their operations, LaBanca said, and outreach is one solution that’s being pursued. Some growers “would not come to us at any cost,” he said, but “I think there is a large contingent that is simply ignorant of environmental regulations and a lot of times, through our outreach process, we get people saying, ‘I want to be environmentally groovy, I want to be organic.’”

Responding to a question from Supervisor Ryan Sundberg on whether the DFG is willing to focus solely on growers’ farming practices, LaBanca said, “We will work with them – yes.”

The county is also working on regulating outdoor medical grows and County Administrative Officer Phillip Smith-Hanes said another draft of an ordinance will be before supervisors in late September, to be followed by community meetings on it.

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125 Responses to “Forest Pot Grows Bring Range Of Destruction – August 31, 2012”

  1. And yet we still raid legitimate LEGAL medical gardens that are in peoples own homes…PATHETIC.

    #64113
  2. And yet we still raid legitimate LEGAL medical gardens that are in peoples own homes…PATHETIC.

    #65745
  3. And yet we still raid legitimate LEGAL medical gardens that are in peoples own homes…PATHETIC.

    #66840
  4. And yet we still raid legitimate LEGAL medical gardens that are in peoples own homes…PATHETIC.

    #67745
  5. Anonymous

    No worries Mark. If a grow in a residential home is a "legitimate LEGAL medical garden," then the cops will leave, no harm, no foul.

    #64114
  6. Anonymous

    No worries Mark. If a grow in a residential home is a "legitimate LEGAL medical garden," then the cops will leave, no harm, no foul.

    #65751
  7. Anonymous

    No worries Mark. If a grow in a residential home is a "legitimate LEGAL medical garden," then the cops will leave, no harm, no foul.

    #66846
  8. Anonymous

    No worries Mark. If a grow in a residential home is a "legitimate LEGAL medical garden," then the cops will leave, no harm, no foul.

    #67751
  9. If the amount of water in the Eel River and its impact on our local environment is one of the main concerns, maybe we should look at how much of it is being diverted to SoCal and work to change that? These farms are a literal drop in a ocean compared to that! I mean, there are actual real concerns associated with what's going on, I don't think bs strawman arguments do anything positive to anyone with a working brain. Makes it all look like pure bias driving this current anti-cannabis movement. If these were really concerns, I would think there would be more effort put into actually regulating, permitting, and working with farms to make sure their impact on the environment is minimized. Instead we push to create this clandestine underground lawless environment, which is one of the main reasons all of this damage is being done to begin with, and keep pushing this nonsense even after we witness how many negative impacts it creates! Maybe it's time for these torch/pitchfork meetings to stop, and real solutions be developed. The only benefits I see to the current path is a couple of extra jobs maybe, and a shot of occasional adrenaline and some fabricated feelings of "we're better than you bad evil growers". Must be a side effect of economic and social unease, but it does absolutely nothing to solve any REAL non ego related issues! That takes actual WORK.

    #64115
  10. If the amount of water in the Eel River and its impact on our local environment is one of the main concerns, maybe we should look at how much of it is being diverted to SoCal and work to change that? These farms are a literal drop in a ocean compared to that! I mean, there are actual real concerns associated with what's going on, I don't think bs strawman arguments do anything positive to anyone with a working brain. Makes it all look like pure bias driving this current anti-cannabis movement. If these were really concerns, I would think there would be more effort put into actually regulating, permitting, and working with farms to make sure their impact on the environment is minimized. Instead we push to create this clandestine underground lawless environment, which is one of the main reasons all of this damage is being done to begin with, and keep pushing this nonsense even after we witness how many negative impacts it creates! Maybe it's time for these torch/pitchfork meetings to stop, and real solutions be developed. The only benefits I see to the current path is a couple of extra jobs maybe, and a shot of occasional adrenaline and some fabricated feelings of "we're better than you bad evil growers". Must be a side effect of economic and social unease, but it does absolutely nothing to solve any REAL non ego related issues! That takes actual WORK.

    #65746
  11. If the amount of water in the Eel River and its impact on our local environment is one of the main concerns, maybe we should look at how much of it is being diverted to SoCal and work to change that? These farms are a literal drop in a ocean compared to that! I mean, there are actual real concerns associated with what's going on, I don't think bs strawman arguments do anything positive to anyone with a working brain. Makes it all look like pure bias driving this current anti-cannabis movement. If these were really concerns, I would think there would be more effort put into actually regulating, permitting, and working with farms to make sure their impact on the environment is minimized. Instead we push to create this clandestine underground lawless environment, which is one of the main reasons all of this damage is being done to begin with, and keep pushing this nonsense even after we witness how many negative impacts it creates! Maybe it's time for these torch/pitchfork meetings to stop, and real solutions be developed. The only benefits I see to the current path is a couple of extra jobs maybe, and a shot of occasional adrenaline and some fabricated feelings of "we're better than you bad evil growers". Must be a side effect of economic and social unease, but it does absolutely nothing to solve any REAL non ego related issues! That takes actual WORK.

    #66841
  12. If the amount of water in the Eel River and its impact on our local environment is one of the main concerns, maybe we should look at how much of it is being diverted to SoCal and work to change that? These farms are a literal drop in a ocean compared to that! I mean, there are actual real concerns associated with what's going on, I don't think bs strawman arguments do anything positive to anyone with a working brain. Makes it all look like pure bias driving this current anti-cannabis movement. If these were really concerns, I would think there would be more effort put into actually regulating, permitting, and working with farms to make sure their impact on the environment is minimized. Instead we push to create this clandestine underground lawless environment, which is one of the main reasons all of this damage is being done to begin with, and keep pushing this nonsense even after we witness how many negative impacts it creates! Maybe it's time for these torch/pitchfork meetings to stop, and real solutions be developed. The only benefits I see to the current path is a couple of extra jobs maybe, and a shot of occasional adrenaline and some fabricated feelings of "we're better than you bad evil growers". Must be a side effect of economic and social unease, but it does absolutely nothing to solve any REAL non ego related issues! That takes actual WORK.

    #67746
  13. Kevin Hoover

    OK, help me out here:

    "more effort put into actually regulating, permitting, and working with farms"

    You expect county regulators to issue grading and other sorts of permits to people committing felonies? Wouldn't that make these public officials subject to arrest by the feds?

    Further, do you imagine that the growers are going to file CEQA documents, and do EIRS?

    #64116
  14. Kevin Hoover

    OK, help me out here:

    "more effort put into actually regulating, permitting, and working with farms"

    You expect county regulators to issue grading and other sorts of permits to people committing felonies? Wouldn't that make these public officials subject to arrest by the feds?

    Further, do you imagine that the growers are going to file CEQA documents, and do EIRS?

    #65752
  15. Kevin Hoover

    OK, help me out here:

    "more effort put into actually regulating, permitting, and working with farms"

    You expect county regulators to issue grading and other sorts of permits to people committing felonies? Wouldn't that make these public officials subject to arrest by the feds?

    Further, do you imagine that the growers are going to file CEQA documents, and do EIRS?

    #66847
  16. Kevin Hoover

    OK, help me out here:

    "more effort put into actually regulating, permitting, and working with farms"

    You expect county regulators to issue grading and other sorts of permits to people committing felonies? Wouldn't that make these public officials subject to arrest by the feds?

    Further, do you imagine that the growers are going to file CEQA documents, and do EIRS?

    #67752
  17. Despite your attempt at the passive aggressive snide tone, which I briefly hit on as a big issues in our society right now, I'll reply, e Of course there is a long road between where we are and where we should be, but backwards is never a good direction to go, and rather than bend to the powers that be, we should take a leading role in bending those powers. Of course right now no one's going to be filing for permits! DUH! Obviously a whole lot has to change before that happens, but very little is actually being done to address the necessary changes, and instead people are doing like you did above and basically throwing their hands up in the air,

    #64117
  18. Despite your attempt at the passive aggressive snide tone, which I briefly hit on as a big issues in our society right now, I'll reply, e Of course there is a long road between where we are and where we should be, but backwards is never a good direction to go, and rather than bend to the powers that be, we should take a leading role in bending those powers. Of course right now no one's going to be filing for permits! DUH! Obviously a whole lot has to change before that happens, but very little is actually being done to address the necessary changes, and instead people are doing like you did above and basically throwing their hands up in the air,

    #65753
  19. Despite your attempt at the passive aggressive snide tone, which I briefly hit on as a big issues in our society right now, I'll reply, e Of course there is a long road between where we are and where we should be, but backwards is never a good direction to go, and rather than bend to the powers that be, we should take a leading role in bending those powers. Of course right now no one's going to be filing for permits! DUH! Obviously a whole lot has to change before that happens, but very little is actually being done to address the necessary changes, and instead people are doing like you did above and basically throwing their hands up in the air,

    #66848
  20. Despite your attempt at the passive aggressive snide tone, which I briefly hit on as a big issues in our society right now, I'll reply, e Of course there is a long road between where we are and where we should be, but backwards is never a good direction to go, and rather than bend to the powers that be, we should take a leading role in bending those powers. Of course right now no one's going to be filing for permits! DUH! Obviously a whole lot has to change before that happens, but very little is actually being done to address the necessary changes, and instead people are doing like you did above and basically throwing their hands up in the air,

    #67753
  21. and talking down to anyone that seeks actual solutions.

    #64118
  22. and talking down to anyone that seeks actual solutions.

    #65754
  23. and talking down to anyone that seeks actual solutions.

    #66849
  24. and talking down to anyone that seeks actual solutions.

    #67754
  25. Which tends to silence a lot of people and again, leads us backwards, while in the meantime, the more underground we push these operations, the more collateral damage will be done to keep them underground, when really, it's a freakin plant. I don't see people carving up the freaking mountains for some spinach and tomatoes!

    #64119
  26. Which tends to silence a lot of people and again, leads us backwards, while in the meantime, the more underground we push these operations, the more collateral damage will be done to keep them underground, when really, it's a freakin plant. I don't see people carving up the freaking mountains for some spinach and tomatoes!

    #65755
  27. Which tends to silence a lot of people and again, leads us backwards, while in the meantime, the more underground we push these operations, the more collateral damage will be done to keep them underground, when really, it's a freakin plant. I don't see people carving up the freaking mountains for some spinach and tomatoes!

    #66850
  28. Which tends to silence a lot of people and again, leads us backwards, while in the meantime, the more underground we push these operations, the more collateral damage will be done to keep them underground, when really, it's a freakin plant. I don't see people carving up the freaking mountains for some spinach and tomatoes!

    #67755
  29. Kevin Hoover

    It's a freaking plant. I hear that over and over. It's also diesel fuel and sediment running off into rivers that are just coming back from decades of neglect and exploitation. The ecosystems don't know or care that it is someone's mood drug that is destroying them.

    You acknowledge that these growers will never get permits or follow the same environmental law that applies to everyone. Are you suggesting that they be allowed to operate outside the law, as they are now?

    #64120
  30. Kevin Hoover

    It's a freaking plant. I hear that over and over. It's also diesel fuel and sediment running off into rivers that are just coming back from decades of neglect and exploitation. The ecosystems don't know or care that it is someone's mood drug that is destroying them.

    You acknowledge that these growers will never get permits or follow the same environmental law that applies to everyone. Are you suggesting that they be allowed to operate outside the law, as they are now?

    #65756
  31. Kevin Hoover

    It's a freaking plant. I hear that over and over. It's also diesel fuel and sediment running off into rivers that are just coming back from decades of neglect and exploitation. The ecosystems don't know or care that it is someone's mood drug that is destroying them.

    You acknowledge that these growers will never get permits or follow the same environmental law that applies to everyone. Are you suggesting that they be allowed to operate outside the law, as they are now?

    #66851
  32. Kevin Hoover

    It's a freaking plant. I hear that over and over. It's also diesel fuel and sediment running off into rivers that are just coming back from decades of neglect and exploitation. The ecosystems don't know or care that it is someone's mood drug that is destroying them.

    You acknowledge that these growers will never get permits or follow the same environmental law that applies to everyone. Are you suggesting that they be allowed to operate outside the law, as they are now?

    #67756
  33. ill get on it with clipboards and all

    #64121
  34. Oscar Featherland

    ill get on it with clipboards and all

    #65757
  35. Oscar Featherland

    ill get on it with clipboards and all

    #66852
  36. Oscar Featherland

    ill get on it with clipboards and all

    #67757
  37. This is the first i've heard of water being diverted to SoCal. Can you please explain by which means the water is being relocated? By which company? Where is the pipeline?

    Thanks.

    #64122
  38. This is the first i've heard of water being diverted to SoCal. Can you please explain by which means the water is being relocated? By which company? Where is the pipeline?

    Thanks.

    #65758
  39. This is the first i've heard of water being diverted to SoCal. Can you please explain by which means the water is being relocated? By which company? Where is the pipeline?

    Thanks.

    #66853
  40. This is the first i've heard of water being diverted to SoCal. Can you please explain by which means the water is being relocated? By which company? Where is the pipeline?

    Thanks.

    #67758
  41. Oscar Featherland

    fam be safe.

    #65747
  42. Oscar Featherland

    fam be safe.

    #66842
  43. Oscar Featherland

    fam be safe.

    #67747
  44. Kevin Hoover

    It's not. There was a proposal years ago to take Mad River water, which was rejected.

    #64124
  45. Kevin Hoover

    It's not. There was a proposal years ago to take Mad River water, which was rejected.

    #65759
  46. Kevin Hoover

    It's not. There was a proposal years ago to take Mad River water, which was rejected.

    #66854
  47. Kevin Hoover

    It's not. There was a proposal years ago to take Mad River water, which was rejected.

    #67759
  48. Sry Brandon, I should have said "more southern california". A lot of it is diverted into the russian river.

    #64125
  49. Sry Brandon, I should have said "more southern california". A lot of it is diverted into the russian river.

    #65760

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