Environmental hazards of pot farms
December 24, 2012
Marijuana growers are siphoning water, spraying pesticides, chopping down trees and leaving California’s wilderness areas strew with litter, scientist said. [LATimes]
State scientists recently studied aerial imagery of a small tributary of the Eel River, the spawning grounds for endangered coho salmon and other threatened fish.
In the remote, 37-square-mile patch of forest, the scientists found 281 outdoor pot farms and 286 greenhouses, containing an estimated 20,000 plants — fed primarily by water diverted from creeks or a fork of the Eel. The farms were siphoning roughly 18 million gallons from the watershed every year, largely at the time when the salmon most need it, the investigation determined.
“That is just one small watershed,” said Scott Bauer, the state scientist in charge of the coho recovery on the North Coast for the Department. of Fish and Game to the Los Angeles Times. “You extrapolate that for all the other tributaries, just of the Eel, and you get a lot of marijuana sucking up a lot of water.… This threatens species we are spending millions of dollars to recover.”
With little or no oversight, pot farmers operating in the shadows have illegally mowed down timber, graded mountaintops flat for sprawling greenhouses, dispersed poisons and pesticides, drained streams and polluted watersheds.