29 April 2015

Local illegal marijuana grow sites cleaned up

Last fall efforts were made to clean up the left over chemicals and infrastructure of abandoned illegal marijuana grow sites in the Sierra National Forest. The death of several nocturnal weasels known as Pacific fisher, which were being studied by a group of University of California researchers in the area, lead to concern for the poisons left on these sites. Rodenticides used to keep young plants safe from rodents during the growing season are causing damage up and down the forest food chain.

The exercise included the High Sierra Volunteer Trail Crew, U.S. Forest Service, Ca. Fish & Wildlife and the National Guard. The work was made possible through a $25,000 grant from the local Chukchansi tribe. The grant was written by the Yosemite/Sequoia Resource Conservation District and SNAMP, the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project’s wildlife and outreach teams, http://snamp.cnr.berkeley.edu/.

The project took place in the Sierra National Forest in Madera County and the Sequoia National forest in Fresno County. Over six days the project hiked in and cleaned thirteen sites. They cleaned up abandoned campsites, propane containers, almost a hundred bags of trash, all the fertilizers, pesticides and rodenticides as well as almost 14 miles of drip line; to protect our wildlife and watersheds from future harm.

Several water reservoirs were dismantled that had been hand dug and used to collect water to mix growing chemicals in before being dispensed to the plants. These large pits have the potential to serve as a trap to wildlife or hikers, long after their intended use has passed. They can also release a flush of unwanted chemicals with the winter rains.

Thanks to the donation of personnel by partner agencies grant monies could be conservatively spent, allowing for multiple years of clean up efforts to continue. Anyone interested in being involved in these efforts in the future can contact the HSVTC at http://trailcrew.org/ or Anne Lombardo at amlombardo@ucanr.edu.

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