I read in the Sept. 13 edition of the Sierra Star that there was another "busted" marijuana farm in our Mountain Area.What a lot of people are not aware of is the environmental impact these large gardens have done to our land, water, natural vegetation and wildlife in these grow sites.
Illegal grow sites are poisoning California's water supply. Sixty-five percent of California's water supply originates in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Today that water supply is being contaminated by these clandestine marijuana cultivation sites.
A countless number of pollutants damage the streams, including canisters of propane, fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and rodenticides. Chemicals may go directly into our waterways or may leach into soil to be released into the water throughout the year. The growers use these chemicals to feed and protect their plants. The problem is they use these products, some of which aren't legal in the U.S., at application rates far above what is safe without regard to the damage they cause to the water, soil and wildlife.
A current study at the University of California Davis has found growers create pesticide (rodenticides) "fences" that will keep any animal, from a mouse to a bear, out of the crop. Predators such as owls, martens and fishers in turn eat rodents that have been poisoned, with devastating results.
These poisons range from anti-freeze to DDT, Malathion and other poisons. Insecticides and rodenticides are placed around the plants which then leach into the ground and are absorbed by the plants, which the end user consumes. This is causing illness and death in wildlife and could include humans -- from those house marijuana to those who hunt, fish, or utilize the water flowing down the hill.
Fish and wildlife are also being poached as well as poisoned by those growing marijuana.
Other environmental impacts are pollutants caused from the grower camps. The growers leaves open pits of human waste, garbage and animal carcasses. Additionally, they clear-cut trees in a way that is not optimal for the environment and streams are being dammed, diverted or dried for crop irrigation with pesticides and fertilizers mixed directly in the stream for irrigation.
Shane Krogen, of the Environmental Reclamation Team, recently reported to the Central Sierra Watershed Committee that his team often gets called to clean up grow sites. He stated, on the average, at a grow site he will find 5,590 feet of drip-line and tubing for irrigation, 681 pounds of fertilizer and poisons and 17 bags of garbage.
Jeannie Habben, watershed coordinator, Chowchilla/Fresno Rivers Watershed