Illegal marijuana cultivation is nothing new in Sequoia National Park. In 2005, it earned the title of having more land used for pot grows than any other National Park unit. Since then, the news headlines have kept rolling in, the most dramatic from CNN: "Pot farms run by 'bad guys' getting closer to tourist spots."
The latest came earlier this month when park rangers discovered 1,016 plants, some reaching over 10 feet in height, near the North Fork area within the park's Foothills district. Among the plants, which had an estimated street value of over $4 million, weapons and used ammunition were found.
A few days before the August 17th raid, rangers stopped a vehicle with five suspects inside. They all fled but left about 40 pounds of processed marijuana inside. A day prior to the raid, another suspicious vehicle was stopped and two people suspected of attempting to resupply the marijuana cultivation site were taken into custody.
Violent encounters with marijuana cultivators are rare, but they do happen. On Sunday in Northern California, a Fort Bragg city councilmember who worked private security for a timber company was shot and killed when investigating grow operation near the Noyo River in Mendocino County. The environmental effects of grow sites are also disastrous.
Further Reading on KCET:
- Reefer Madness: Our National Forests Going To Pot
- How to Identify a Marijuana Cultivation Site, and What to Do