The problem of illegal marijuana farms on national forests is, pardon the pun, growing. Although marijuana is now legal in California and other parts of the U.S., illegal marijuana growing is still a billion dollar industry with international tentacles.
“Twenty years ago the people who planted and tended illegal pot farms were poor farmers from Mexico,” said Craig Thompson, a research wildlife ecologist with the USDA Forest Service. “Today international drug organizations bring in people from Russia and Asia and other places. They don’t have a farming background. It’s strictly mercenary.”
These sites have devastating impacts on both wildlife and water quality. The growers use large amounts of rodenticide to keep mice from destroying their plants. The killing effects can spread up the food chain as larger predators feed on the smaller, poisoned animals.
In California alone, these sites also skim more than a billion gallons of water away from sources intended for human consumption in places like San Francisco and Sacramento. These waters, including those that feed municipal water systems, are increasingly at risk of contamination from highly concentrated rodenticide and insecticide.
To read the rest of this article please visit the USDA site.