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Illegal pot farms on public land create environmental hazard

Posted at 10:44 AM, Nov 17, 2019

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A month after two men were arrested at an illicit marijuana farm on public land in the California wilderness, authorities are assessing the environmental impact and cleanup costs at the site.

A group including Forest Service rangers, scientists and conservationists hiked into the so-called trespass grow where 9,000 cannabis plants were illegally cultivated in the Shasta Trinity National Forest.

Officials say trees were clear-cut, waterways diverted, and the ground littered with containers of fertilizer and rodenticide.

The cleanup efforts are spearheaded by the group Cannabis Removal on Public Lands Project - or CROP. It's a coalition of conservation organizations, tribes, elected officials, police and federal land managers. Also lending its support is the legal cannabis industry, which says it's being undercut by the criminal market.

CROP is lobbying for funding to reclaim an estimated 2,000 sites, a process it says could take seven to 10 years.