CDFW Team Investigates Major Trinity County Marijuana Cultivation Sites

Sept. 6, 2013
Media Contact:
Warden Mark Michilizzi, CDFW Enforcement, (916) 651-2084

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The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) participated in a multiagency narcotics task force that executed 23 search warrants in Trinity County on Aug. 29. All of the warrants were served in the Trinity Pines subdivision in the town of Hayfork.

The parcels were part of a long investigation conducted by the State Marijuana Investigation Team, Bureau of Land Management and Trinity County Narcotics Task Force, relating to illegal cultivation of marijuana for sale. Eight wildlife officers and six CDFW environmental scientists inspected nine of the 23 parcels for environmental crimes.

Violations found by the CDFW team include eight unlawful water diversions, 18 incidents of state water pollution, five violations of littering state waters, and multiple violations of the Clean Water Act and Porter Cologne Water Quality Act.

Some environmental violations involved the terracing of slopes above fish streams and other unpermitted construction that negatively impact stream banks, water quality and riparian zones through loss of natural habitat and uncontrolled water runoff. Large quantities of trash and plastic fertilizer bags were discarded throughout the parcels, creating environmental and wildlife hazards.

“What we observed on these parcels contributes to the cumulative impacts we see downstream including low stream flows, nutrient loading causing algae blooms, poor water quality and ultimately fish kills,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Jane Arnold, who has been working environmental crime investigations associated with illegal marijuana growing operations for several years. “These stream impacts are undermining decades of restoration and fish recovery efforts in the Trinity River watershed, and ultimately affect its wild and scenic character.”

CDFW’s Lt. Jackie Krug added that wardens and environmental scientists have been working together closely for several years to investigate environmental crimes associated with illegal marijuana growing operations. “This detail resulted in similar types of environmental crimes that we often see on these sites,” she said.