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).
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 207-7891