All posts by mackeyjanice

Black Market Marijuana Grow Eradicated in Sacramento County

Firearms, Poaching and Trash Discovered at Protected Ecological Reserve 

On July 12, wildlife officers at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) shut down a black market marijuana operation on state property in Sacramento County. This was part of a complex investigation conducted by CDFW’s special operations unit.

Support was provided by the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, which included the U.S. Forest Service, the California Department of Justice, the National Guard and other allied agencies who assisted wildlife officers with the eradication and reclamation efforts.

The illegal grow consisted of two side by side properties: one parcel was owned by CDFW and the other was owned by The Nature Conservancy. Both properties are part of the Cosumnes River Preserve.

“Discovering thousands of illegal marijuana plants on CDFW property and just 25 miles from the State Capitol demonstrates the brazen actions of those involved in the black market marijuana trade,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “There’s no question that operations of this nature prevent the legal cannabis market from thriving. The extra resources provided by Governor Newsom’s administration to shutdown illegal cultivation sites like this one are greatly needed and made this mission possible.”

During the mission, over 15,000 plants were eradicated, 3,000 pounds of processed marijuana was seized, three loaded firearms were confiscated and evidence of a poached deer was discovered. Prior to the operation, wildlife officers also observed the suspects shipping out more than 400 pounds of processed marijuana through a rented U-Haul truck which was also confiscated.

The grow was located in sensitive wildlife habitat. The property is home to hundreds of bird species, including the greater sandhill crane and Swainson’s hawk (both listed as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act), more than 40 types of fish including state listed steelhead and other wildlife such as the giant garter snake, the western pond turtle, deer, fox and an occasional mountain lion.

Numerous environmental violations were documented, including a sophisticated illegal water diversion, pesticide and petroleum products placed near streams, garbage placed near waterways, habitat destruction and substantially causing environmental harm to public land. Eleven suspects were arrested during the operation. Officers also removed 1,900 pounds of trash from the site through aerial support.

CDFW encourages the public to report illegal cannabis cultivation and environmental crimes such as water pollution, water diversions and poaching to the CalTIP hotline by calling (888) 334-2258 or texting information to “TIP411” (847411).

###

Media Contact:
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 207-7891

CDFW Offers Wildlife Friendly Tips for Cannabis Cultivators

California is home to an array of unique plants and wildlife, including many threatened and endangered species found nowhere else in the world. Protecting these precious resources is at the heart of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

Like many agricultural crops, cannabis cultivation has the potential to impact fish and wildlife. To help cultivators and other farmers reduce environmental impacts, CDFW is offering wildlife friendly tips for those engaged in farming activities.

“We all have an obligation to be good stewards of the watershed,” said Sunshine Johnston Owner and Operator of Sunboldt Grown. “Farmers of all types can utilize the natural aspects of the surrounding ecosystem and let nature do the work for you. With this approach, native wildlife and plants can have a role on your farm while improving sustainability.“

Below are suggestions for utilizing natural resources and coexisting with wildlife:

Post Bat BoxesBats eat millions of insects each night and can help control pesky insect populations, reducing the need for harmful pesticides. To encourage bats on your property, install bat boxes. These are artificial roosts that allows bats to live in an area with otherwise limited roosting habitat. To learn more about utilizing bat boxes visit: https://batworld.org/bat-house-information/.

Post Owl Boxes – Similar to bat boxes, providing owl boxes on your property can encourage these handy raptors to help control rodent populations. Reliance on harmful rodenticides which impact the entire food chain (including mountain lions) can be significantly reduced when you let owls do the work for you. Learn more at: www.ucdavis.edu/one-health/how-build-owl-box/.

Location Selection – Location is everything for a business and commercial cannabis cultivation is no exception. To reduce impacts to sensitive habitats and avoid engaging in take of listed species during cultivation or construction activities, research your location thoroughly. Some parcels are better suited for farming activities as compared to other locations near sensitive streams or with listed species on or near the property. Your regional CDFW representative can provide feedback on your proposed cultivation site and how to address potential impacts to fish and wildlife resources.

Employ Companion Planting – Some plant species naturally repel pests. By planting these types of crops adjacent to cannabis, you will have another ‘natural’ insecticide and can be less reliant on the more toxic alternatives that often move from points of application through spray drift, surface runoff or irrigation return flows.

Use Natural Vegetation – Retaining natural vegetation around the property will result in a more diverse landscape with more food resources, nest sites, and shelter for bird species that forage on insects and predators that prey on small mammals. The natural vegetation will also help animals to move around without being seen or disrupted by interactions with people.

Choose the Right Crop for the Right Climate – To reduce water use during the hot summer months, cannabis cultivators can choose a cannabis strain that is best suited for the climate in which it is being produced. The right strain, for the right location, in the right amount is a win-win for all. This will help produce a plant with better yields that is more environmentally friendly.

If you are a cannabis cultivator and have ideas for helping native wildlife or have questions about the suggestions, please email AskCannabis@wildlife.ca.gov. For more information on upcoming permitting workshops, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/cannabis and click on the events tab.

CDFW encourages cannabis cultivators to obtain a state license with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (which includes notifying CDFW about any proposed activities), a county permit, permits from the State Water Boards and implementing best management practices to reduce environmental impacts.

To report environmental crimes such as poaching or water diversions, please call the CalTIP hotline at (888) 334-2258 or text “CALTIP” followed by a space and the desired message, to 847411 (tip411).

Contact:
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 207-7891

CDFW and Partners Target Illegal Marijuana Grows in Hayfork

Coordinated Enforcement Focuses on Sensitive Watersheds

On June 25 and 26, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office served 15 warrants in the Hayfork area of Trinity County. Support for the mission was provided by U.S. Forest Service, National Guard, Trinity County Environmental Health and the State Water Resources Control Board.

The Duncan Creek and Barker Creek watersheds were specifically targeted due to the presence of critical habitat for winter run steelhead, foothill yellow-legged frogs, western pond turtles and other species. Each watershed had unauthorized water diversions which significantly impacted instream flow and the amount of available resources for these sensitive aquatic species.

A records check confirmed that none of the parcels were permitted by the county nor were they licensed by the state for commercial cannabis cultivation. In addition, none of the sites had taken the necessary steps to notify CDFW, which is a requirement in the licensing process.

“These missions were a highly coordinated effort between local, state and federal entities who worked tirelessly to protect California’s natural resources,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division.

The two-day operation yielded 12,548 black market marijuana plants, 801 pounds of processed marijuana, 15 firearms and $435,875 in U.S. currency.

Forty-four combined Fish and Game Code violations were documented among all grows, which included illegal water diversions, pesticide and petroleum products placed near streams, sediment discharge and garbage placed near waterways. Twenty-three suspects were detained during the operation.

“Trinity County is known for its outdoor activities and its beautiful environment, which should always be treated with respect and appreciation,” said Donna Daly, Trinity County District Attorney. “Those who blatantly damage our county’s natural resources should and will be held accountable.”

CDFW’s cannabis program consists of scientists and law enforcement officers and is a critical component of California’s transition into a regulated cannabis industry. Staff members work with cultivators to bring their facilities into compliance, provide assistance in remediating environmental violations, and facilitate enforcement actions with other local agencies to remove illegal grows. Learn more about CDFW’s role at www.wildlife.ca.gov/cannabis.

CDFW encourages the public to report environmental crimes such as water pollution, water diversions and poaching to the CalTIP hotline by calling (888) 334-2258 or by texting “CALTIP”, followed by a space and the message, to 847411 (tip411).

###

Media Contact:
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 207-7891

Wildlife Officers Shut Down Illegal Marijuana Grows in Tulare County

Meth, Firearms and Trash Pit Discovered Near Restored Wetlands

On June 21, wildlife officers at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) served a search warrant on an illegal marijuana grow in Tulare County. The parcel was located south of the city of Alpaugh. Assistance was provided by members of the Southern Tri Counties High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area team.

A records check confirmed the parcel was not permitted by the county nor licensed by the state for commercial cannabis cultivation. In addition, the site had not taken the necessary steps to notify CDFW of their activities, which is a requirement in the licensing process.

The location was in close proximity to the Atwell Island Recreational area which consists of 8,000 acres of restored native grassland, wetland and alkali sink habitats. It is an important habitat for migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, songbirds and is one of the few remaining wetlands in the area.

“Tulare county is home to over 20 listed state species and 10 listed federal species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “It is a thoughtless act to leave trash and harmful chemicals near protected habitats that threatened and endangered wildlife call home.”

On site, officers located numerous fertilizer and pesticide containers, including a 55-gallon drum of roundup. The suspects had constructed a large lined water pit where they pre-mixed chemicals to water the plants. This unsecured set up was particularly alarming because the neighboring bird population could inadvertently be exposed to these harmful chemicals. The property was also littered with trash and had a huge open trash pit.

Officers removed 1,581 of illegal marijuana plants and approximately 1,000 lbs. of processed marijuana. CDFW seized three firearms, one being an AK-47, $8,980 in cash and 18.5 grams of methamphetamine. CDFW took all eight suspects into custody who were all charged with seven different violations including three felonies.

In addition, while officers were driving up the road to serve the warrant, they observed another illegal cultivation site in plain view with two subjects actively working in a 500-plant grow. Those two individuals were also taken into custody and booked into jail on felony charges.

Charges for all suspects include felony cultivation, possession of methamphetamine and a loaded gun, possession of an assault rifle, drug sales, resisting arrest and water code violations. Along with this, clean-up of the property will also be requested to help restore the surrounding wildlife habitat and ecology.

CDFW encourages the public to report environmental crimes such as water pollution, water diversions and poaching to the CalTIP hotline by calling (888) 334-2258 or by texting “CALTIP”, followed by a space and the message, to 847411 (tip411).

Media Contact:
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 207-7891

 

CDFW Serves Search Warrants on Illegal Marijuana Grows in Trinity and Shasta Counties

Wildlife officers with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) served search warrants on five illegal marijuana grows in Trinity and Shasta counties.

A record check on each property showed no state license or county permit to grow cannabis, no CDFW Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement had been filed, nor were any steps taken to secure any of these licenses or permits on any of the commercial-size operations.

“Illegal marijuana cultivation has no place in today’s regulated cannabis market,” said David Bess, Deputy Director and Chief of the CDFW Law Enforcement Division. “Individuals who destroy our environment and continue to cultivate illegally produced marijuana will be held accountable.”

On June 4 and 5, CDFW served two search warrants in Shasta County where commercial cannabis cultivation is prohibited. The first warrant was served off of Spootsy Drive in the Montgomery Creek area where wildlife officers discovered 1,752 outdoor marijuana plants. Two suspects were arrested, eight firearms were seized along with $12,000 in U.S. currency. The second search warrant was served off of Nathaniel Lane also in the Montgomery Creek area where wildlife officers discovered 948 outdoor marijuana plants. One suspect was arrested.

On June 6 ,13 and 18, wildlife officers served three search warrants in Trinity County. The first warrant was served off of Barker Creek Road near the town of Hayfork. Officers found approximately 5,273 outdoor marijuana plants and detained eight suspects. On June 13, CDFW served a search warrant in the Swift Creek Watershed off of Rancheria Creek Road and found over 1,500 outdoor marijuana plants. Two suspects were detained. On June 18, wildlife officers served a search warrant in the 100 block of Our Road in the Burnt Ranch area. Officers discovered 2,425 illegal marijuana plants and seized five firearms, which included a .223 caliber assault rifle.

Fish and Game Code violations for all grows included illegal water diversions, pesticide and petroleum products placed near streams, sediment discharge and garbage placed near waterways. Charges for all suspects will be filed with the respective county District Attorney’s office for consideration.

“Seemingly harmless cultivation activities such as water diversions and land clearing can substantially disrupt wildlife behaviors and severely damage the habitats they rely on to eat, breed and survive,” said Jennifer Nguyen, CDFW’s Cannabis Program Director.

CDFW’s cannabis program consists of scientists and law enforcement officers and is a critical component of California’s transition into a regulated cannabis industry. Staff work with cultivators to bring their facilities into compliance, provide assistance in remediating environmental violations, and facilitate enforcement actions with other local agencies to remove illegal grows. Learn more about CDFW’s role at www.wildlife.ca.gov/cannabis.

CDFW encourages the public to report environmental crimes such as water pollution, water diversions and poaching to the CalTIP hotline by calling (888) 334-2258 or by texting information to “TIP411 (847411)”.

###

Media Contact:
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 207-7891