Legislature Approves Chesbro’s Forest Protection Bill – August 22, 2012

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Assemlymember Wes Chesbro Press Release

Legislature approves bill to protect forests and forest users from criminal activity

AB 2284 goes to Gov as anniversary of shooting death of Jere Melo approaches

SACRAMENTO – The Legislature has given final approval to and sent to the governor a bill byAssemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D – North Coast) to give law enforcement tools to battle illegal drug operations, protecting environmentally sensitive forest lands and those who use them. AB 2284 goes to the governor for his signature nearly a year after the death of Ft. Bragg City Councilmember Jere Melo, who was killed when he stumbled on an illegal grow while inspecting forest lands near the city on Aug. 27, 2011.

“The best way to prevent illegal drug operations from damaging the environment and threatening those who use our forests is to stop these operations from being established in the first place,” Chesbro said. “This legislation gives law enforcement new tools to protect our public resource lands and private industrial timberland. AB 2284 also increases the financial penalties for conducting criminal enterprises on our forest lands to provide the funding needed to investigate these cases and clean up the environmental damage.”

AB 2284 allows law enforcement to stop and question drivers who are transporting in plain sight irrigation supplies – commonly used in illicit grows – over unpaved or gravel roads that run through specified resource lands. These include public lands and private Timber Preserve Zone forest lands of 50,000 acres or larger. Owners of TPZ lands of 2,500 acres or more can also opt in.

“I would like to thank Assemblymember Chesbro for authoring this bill and highlighting this huge environmental devastation that results from marijuana being grown in the forest,” said Madeline Melo, who started a foundation to protect forest lands in the name of her late husband. “Marijuana cultivation has caused large scale damage to wildlife and humans. While this bill is not the ultimate solution, it is a step in the process.

“My objective and the mission of the Jere Melo Foundation is not only to protect the environment and humans, but to ensure that nothing like what happened to my husband would happen to anyone else in the future. I hope to, once again, make the forest a safe place for people to do their jobs.”

Gov. Jerry Brown has until Sept. 30 to act on AB 2284.

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6 Responses to “Legislature Approves Chesbro’s Forest Protection Bill – August 22, 2012”

  1. The Chesbro bill was passed based on a mythical version of the death of Jere Melo. Melo did NOT stumble into an illegal growing "operation. He went looking for specifically for a man named Aaron, who neighbors had complaiined of threatening them with a gun on their own property. Aaron Bassler was a mentally ill survivalist and gun fancier who had established a camp in the forest after losing his home in Fort Bragg. He had a few hundred poppy plants growing in his camp, but not as a commercial growing operation. A sheriff's officer told media that the poppies were most likely grown by Bassler for his own use. There is no commercial opium poppy growing in the U.S. Bassler was not growing marijuana. A few weeks before killing Melo, when Melo and an armed companion invaded Bassler's camp, Bassler had killed Matthew Coleman, a young property manager for the Mendocino Land Trust. No marijuana growing sites were found near that location either.

    Melo and Coleman were both killed by an insane serial killer. Their deaths were not related to marijuana growing, and neither one was killed on national forest or other publicly owned forest land. But in both cases there was initial speculation that pot growers had killed the men, and that was the story that persisted in the media.

    Mrs. Melo's grief at the loss of her husband is justified. In my opinion, though, she has been taken advantage of by others who used her in support of their own goal to hype the danger and "environmental damage" caused by illegal marijuana growing on public and private forest lands. The interested parties included Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman, whose department will be granted new powers to stop and question people, and will be provided new funding to support anti-drug policing.

    The Mendocino County District Attorney finally released a detailed report on the Bassler killings just last week. Among the details never before known to the public was that Bassler defecated on Matt Coleman's body after killing him. There was nothing about illegal pot growing in the report. It said Bassler had approximately 400 to 500 poppy plants growing in terraced gardens at his camp. Bassler had a known history of abusing prescription opiate painkillers. But now he was living alone as a hermit in the woods, and had no income. He grew opium poppies in his home garden for his own use.

    The cause of Melo's and Coleman's deaths was untreated mental illness, probablly paranoid schizophrenia. Bassler had been arrested a few years ago for throwing packages into the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco. His father and people who knew him said he thought Martians were invading, and that Communist China was helping them. His father begged county authorities to provide mental health help for Bassler, but nothing was done. Since the killings, Bassler's father has been an outspoken supporter of Laura's Law, which would provide a way to require dangerous mentally ill people to submit to treatment.

    As for the supposed "environmental damage" caused by pot growers in the woods, it's nothing compared to the massive environmental damage caused by over three decades of clear cutting the steep coastal forests by logging corporations including the one Mr. Melo worked for most of his adult life, Georgia Pacific Corporation.

    I urge Gov. Brown not to sign this flawed legislation, which was passed under false pretenses, supported by logging corporations and law enforcement agencies.

    #64067
  2. Kevin Hoover

    "As for the supposed "environmental damage" caused by pot growers in the woods, it's nothing compared to the massive environmental damage caused by over three decades of clear cutting the steep coastal forests by logging corporations…"

    This is a logical fallacy. Restating the above quote: Because Problem A isn't as bad as Problem B, Problem A is "nothing," and by inference, doesn't require a solution.

    #64070
  3. This is a good news to hear from you, Now we can save our environments.

    Regards
    http://www.bizworldusa.com/

    #64091
  4. Mr. Hoover set up a straw man argument to accuse me of logical fallacy. I didn't say that because problem A isn't as bad as problem B that A doesn't require a solution.

    My point is that logging interests crying over environmental damage caused by pot growers is extremely hypocritical in light of the far, far greater environmental damage caused by logging.

    But in fact, I have seen no persuasive evidence that there has been significant environmental damage caused by pot growers. Instead there's been a lot of hyperbole and propaganda by the sheriff's office, citing silly figures like the number of feet of irrigation piping ripped up.

    Next Tuesday the Mendo County supes will consider a motion re sending the gov a letter supporting signing the Chesbro bill into law. The item is on the consent calendar, but I'm betting it will be pulled for full discussion, and I hope the supes won't support this hyped up boondoggle.

    #64153
  5. Mr. Hoover set up a straw man argument to accuse me of logical fallacy. I didn't say that because problem A isn't as bad as problem B that A doesn't require a solution.

    My point is that logging interests crying over environmental damage caused by pot growers is extremely hypocritical in light of the far, far greater environmental damage caused by logging.

    But in fact, I have seen no persuasive evidence that there has been significant environmental damage caused by pot growers. Instead there's been a lot of hyperbole and propaganda by the sheriff's office, citing silly figures like the number of feet of irrigation piping ripped up.

    Next Tuesday the Mendo County supes will consider a motion re sending the gov a letter supporting signing the Chesbro bill into law. The item is on the consent calendar, but I'm betting it will be pulled for full discussion, and I hope the supes won't support this hyped up boondoggle.

    #64154
  6. Kevin Hoover

    Nicholas, consider talking to the many people who have been involved in decades of habitat restoration from the very logging damage you mention. They are heartsick at seeing their work undone by the rampant, unregulated, large-scale cannabis plantations.

    http://www.arcataeye.com/2012/08/forest-pot-grows-bring-range-of-destruction-august-31-2012/

    #64155

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