Earlier this summer, law enforcement agents seized some 50,000 plants growing in a number of Inyo County canyons. With regular raids on outdoor farms throughout National Forest land in California, Forest Service officials recently announced plans to stop illegal marijuana farms.
With more foreign nationals and drug trafficking organizations growing dope in the hills, enforcement interest has grown. Forest Service documents state that law enforcement employees had been cut by well over half since 1992 in the Pacific Southwest Region. More money from the federal government to hire more officers is central to the plan.
With more officers at work, Forest Officials say that they will pursue the people higher up in the cartels that fund the pot farms.
Like the Inyo County incident that left two arrested, Matt Mathes with the Forest Service explained that in these increasingly common raids, officers often arrest a farmer or two, but now efforts will target the bosses who hired the farmers.
Rehabilitation of land that has been damaged by pot farms is also key to the plan. Herbicides, pesticides, human waste, trash, piping and dewatered creeks are often left behind after a farm is abandoned.
Mathes says that rehabilitation of the farms is not only good for the land, it also helps keep the farmers from returning to set up shop again in the future. He explained that these sites are often used year after year. Without the rehab work, the marijuana farmers wouldnt have to work so hard to set up again.
As the Forest Service steps up efforts, raids on farms continue throughout the state as harvest time nears. Mathes explained that with the approach of the harvest, farmers may fight harder for the crop in order to get a bonus from their bosses for successful delivery. This could lead to violence. Earlier this week, a shootout between law enforcement officers and illegal marijuana farmers left one farmer dead on the San Bernadino National Forest, Matthes reports.
The goal of the Forest Service is to detect and clean up 100% of the cultivation sites on National Forest lands. The Forest Service plan states that only time will tell how effective their strategies will be, but what we do know is that we can no longer allow this crisis to continue as it has.