Environmental Crimes Discovered at Illegal Cannabis Grows in Tehama and Shasta Counties

Illegal Water Diversions Removed and Pollution Documented

In April, wildlife officers at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) conducted two investigations related to environmental crimes associated with illegal cannabis cultivation in southern Tehama County and western Shasta County.

Support was provided by CDFW Environmental Scientists, and the Sheriffs’ Departments of Trinity and Tehama counties.

“Both sites were illegally diverting water from stream channels with unseasonably low water levels,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “If left in place, these operations would have severely impacted water availability in the streams, which sensitive fish and wildlife species depend on for survival.”

On April 16 in Tehama County, officers served a search warrant and eradicated over 900 illegal cannabis plants. CDFW Environmental Scientists documented 10 environmental violations along North Fork Elder Creek, which included unscreened and unlawful water diversions, oil, sediment and nutrient pollution, and litter in and around nearby streams.

North Fork Elder Creek supports foothill yellow-legged frog and western pond turtle, California Species of Special Concern, as well as a variety of native fish species, all of which were observed during the investigation. Officers arrested two suspects for illegal cannabis cultivation and 10 counts of various environmental crimes. A formal complaint will be filed with the Tehama County District Attorney’s office.

On April 21, officers responded to a landowner complaint of a trespass cannabis grow on Lewiston Turnpike Road in Shasta County. Officers eradicated 1,950 illegal cannabis plants and CDFW Environmental Scientists documented illegal stream diversions and litter in and adjacent to state waters. One suspect was detained and released pursuant to Shasta County Jail COVID-19 protocols. A formal complaint will be filed with the Shasta County District Attorney’s office.

The public can report environmental crimes to the CalTIP hotline at (888) 334-2258 or by texting “CALTIP”, followed by a space and the message, to 847411 (tip411).

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

Online Grant Program Workshop on April 19

images of before and after refuse removal

Who: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Cannabis Restoration Grant Program (CRGP)

What: CDFW staff will host an online workshop to provide an overview of the WebGrants application process for the current Watershed Remediation and Enhancement Solicitation and to answer any questions. Please see CDFW’s CRGP page for more details about the workshop.

When: Monday, April 19 from 10 to 11 a.m.

Where: Online Zoom Workshop. Register in advance for this meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZckce2rqDgoH9bt9Ubr6zJB26lOVSL3_Ew6

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Why: The application workshop is designed to help entities of all sizes navigate the WebGrants submission process. Grants through the CRGP are funded through California’s Environmental Restoration and Protection Account pursuant to Revenue and Taxation Code section 34019(f)(2), and may be used to fund the cleanup, remediation, and restoration of environmental damage in watersheds affected by cannabis cultivation and related activities, and to support local partnerships for this purpose.

Attendees are encouraged to view this online presentation to learn more about CRGP and available funding opportunities.

For questions on CDFW’s CRGP, please email canngrantprogram@wildlife.ca.gov.

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

CDFW’s Cannabis Grant Program Announces Upcoming Funding Opportunities for 2021 and Beyond

irrigation piping being airlifted out of remote location
2018 Cannabis Grant Cleanup Effort in Northern California

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced plans for upcoming funding opportunities for a variety of cannabis related projects statewide through the Cannabis Restoration Grant Program (CRGP).

CDFW has released a Draft Proposal Solicitation Notice for public review and comment. The draft solicitation includes funding opportunities in two priority categories statewide: (1) Cleanup and remediation of public lands impacted by illegal cannabis cultivation and (2) Watershed and/or community enhancements where either legal or illegal cannabis cultivation occurs.

CDFW will host an online workshop on March 24, 2021, at 11 a.m. to provide an overview of the draft solicitation, application requirements and to answer questions about this specific funding opportunity. See CDFW’s CRGP page for details about the workshop.

Additionally, CDFW is developing a new grant opportunity with a focus on assisting qualified cannabis growers. More details on this opportunity will be announced later this year.

“We are excited to engage with organizations of all sizes about their ideas and cannabis-related projects to benefit the environment,” said Jennifer Nguyen, CDFW’s Cannabis Environmental Program Manager. “We are interested to see how these financial resources will help the industry and are eager to listen and learn from our stakeholders.”

Grants through the CRGP are funded through California’s Environmental Restoration and Protection Account pursuant to Revenue and Taxation Code section 34019(f)(2), and may be used to fund the cleanup, remediation, and restoration of environmental damage in watersheds affected by cannabis cultivation and related activities, and to support local partnerships for this purpose.

View this online presentation to learn more about CRGP and available funding opportunities.

For questions on CDFW’s CRGP, please email canngrantprogram@wildlife.ca.gov.

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

Wildlife Officers Shut Down Illegal Cannabis Operation on CDFW Property

Armed Growers Stopped From Cultivating Thousands of Plants

Wildlife officers with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET) conducted a raid of a clandestine cannabis grow on the North Grasslands Wildlife Area, Gadwall Unit in Los Banos.

The property is home to dozens of species of nesting waterfowl, migratory birds, rabbits, pheasants, birds of prey, small rodents and native plants. Over 1,500 hunters and outdoor enthusiasts visit the property annually.

Nestled in the closed zone of the property, the growers constructed five hoop houses made from PVC pipe and wood that was covered with plastic tarps. The hoop houses were filled with 185 immature cannabis plants and the site had been prepared to plant several thousand more.

“This brazen attempt to hide in plain sight on CDFW property is a perfect example of the lengths people will go to grow illegal cannabis,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “This type of activity is a huge public safety threat and detrimental to the extensive bird populations that rely on the natural resources of this property.”

On Feb. 25, MET officers carefully entered the grow site and apprehended two men. One of the suspects was armed with a loaded semi-automatic .22 rifle and the other was armed with a loaded Beretta-style CO2 pellet pistol.

Several dead birds, including one Western Meadowlark were discovered within the grow site. Thousands of feet of black polyethylene pipe were stretched across the property and was siphoning water from the permanent wetlands in the closed zone. Officers also discovered dozens of dangerous pesticides and chemicals.

Over 2,560 lbs. of waste, chemicals and infrastructure was removed and taken to the landfill.

The two suspects were arrested and are being charged with eight felonies and 15 misdemeanors with the Merced County District Attorney’s office.

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

Free Online Commercial Cannabis Permitting Workshop March 4

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), California Department of Food and Agriculture’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Division (CalCannabis) and State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) are hosting a free online commercial cannabis cultivation permitting workshop on Thursday, March 4, 2021.

cannabis plants surrounded by flowers

The free workshop is ideal for new and existing commercial cannabis cultivators and consultants. Those interested in attending can use the link below to watch the webcast – no registration is required. Closed captions will be provided.

Questions can be submitted in advance of the event by sending an email to askcannabis@wildlife.ca.gov with “Cannabis Webcast” as the subject line. Questions not answered during the webcast will be forwarded to the appropriate agency for a response.

Date and time: Thursday, March 4, from 9 to 11 a.m.

Webcast link: https://video.calepa.ca.gov/

CalCannabis will provide an overview of the state’s cannabis cultivation licensing program and review the requirements for commercial cannabis farming. CDFW will cover permitting, use of the online notification system (EPIMS) and compliance requirements. The State Water Board will review the cannabis policy and permitting process for both the Division of Water Quality and Division of Water Rights. Other regulatory agencies will also present.

For more information about becoming a licensed commercial cannabis farmer and for an overview of the California Cannabis Track-and-Trace/Metrc System, please visit the CalCannabis website at calcannabis.cdfa.ca.gov, call (833) CALGROW (225-4769) or send an email to calcannabis@cdfa.ca.gov. To report suspected illegal cannabis farming or related complaints, call the CalCannabis toll-free hotline: (833) WEED-TIP (933-3847).

To learn more about CDFW’s cannabis program, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/cannabis or send an email to askcannabis@wildlife.ca.gov. To report environmental crimes, such as pollution, water diversions and poaching, please call the CalTIP hotline at (888) 334-2258 or text information to tip411 by texting “CALTIP” followed by a space and the message. The CalTIP app can also be downloaded via the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.

To learn more about the State Water Board’s role in cannabis cultivation permitting, please visit waterboards.ca.gov/cannabis. For permitting and compliance assistance, send an email to dwq.cannabis@waterboards.ca.gov or call (916) 341-5580 (Cannabis Cultivation General Order), or send an email to cannabisreg@waterboards.ca.gov or call (916) 319-9427 (cannabis cultivation water rights).

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Media Contacts:
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, janice.mackey@wildlife.ca.gov
Rebecca Forée, CDFA’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Division, rebecca.foree@cdfa.ca.gov