Illegal Marijuana Cultivation Sites Cleaned Up to Protect Endangered Species

Media Contact:
Lt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095

California wildlife officers will work with several allied agencies and scientific personnel to clean up six polluted illegal marijuana cultivation sites to protect three species threatened with extinction. The sites encompass habitat of the federally endangered Coho salmon, federally threatened northern spotted owl and the Pacific fisher, which was recently proposed for listing as federally threatened.

Scientific data conclusively proves how pollution from illegal marijuana cultivation has further degraded habitat quality for each species, and how bioaccumulating rodenticides, common to illegal cultivation sites, continue to acutely affect the northern spotted owl and the Pacific fisher. Consequently, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) applied for and received Section 6 federal funds earmarked to benefit such species to conduct cleanup operations after the sites were eradicated and secured.

Wildlife officers from CDFW, the California Air National Guard’s Counterdrug Task Force and the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office conducted the raids and eradication of each of the six sites in mid-summer, and marked them for return and environmental reclamation. The growers are alleged members of one or more international drug trafficking organizations. In addition to polluting the land and water and destroying habitat, they represent a serious threat to public safety.

Personnel from all agencies will work together to restore the sites to as pristine a condition as possible. They will remove the entire infrastructure of the grow site including rodenticides, fertilizers, pesticides, human waste and garbage and thousands of feet of irrigation tubing.

On Oct. 16, representatives of the media will be escorted into one of the grow sites. The general location will be in Trinity County off of Highway 299, midway between Whiskeytown and the coast. It is a 40 minute hike from the road. Those joining the tour should be in good physical condition, wear long pants and long sleeves with good hiking boots, wear gloves and have eye protection, wear a wide brim hat, carry plenty of water (most operational personnel will have 100 ounces or more CamelBak style water containers) and an energy bar type of snack. Photographers are advised to prepare for the extremely dusty conditions that result from working underneath a helicopter.

Media should R.S.V.P. to patrick.foy@wildlife.ca.gov for operational details and specific information on when and where to meet.