Over 3,000 marijuana plants found growing in Pike National Forest with a street value of nearly $9 million were removed this week with the help of multiple local and federal agencies, The Denver Post reports. It was a joint effort between the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, The U.S. Forest Service, The Colorado National Guard, DEA, and The South Metro Drug Task Force that helped in the raid of the cultivation site near Deckers, Colo., 7News reports.
No arrests were made during operation. The Houston Chronicle reports that the Colorado National Guard flew the plants out of the forest and also dismantled an extensive drip irrigation system set up for the illegal pot farm.
The U.S. Forest Service dismantles only a fraction of the illegal pot farms it can find, according to U.S. Forest Service representative Steve Segin who spoke with Fox31. Illegal grows have been discovered and shut down on fewer than 40,000 acres of the total 193 million acres under their management. In Colorado 13 illegal grows have been destroyed since 2009. According to a Douglas County Sheriff’s Office press release, authorities are not just concerned about the public safety risk of a marijuana farm in the forest, these cultivation sites directly harm the environment:
The illegal use of pesticides can cause extensive long-term damage to natural resources. For example, the supply of public drinking water for hundreds of miles may be impacted because of one marijuana growing site. Overall, the negative impact of marijuana sites on natural resources is severe. Human waste and trash are widespread, contamination from sites affects fish and wildlife habitats, and soil erosion is common. In addition, water usage is extreme because each marijuana plant is estimated to require a gallon of water per day – water that is critical to native vegetation, wildlife, and public drinking water sources.
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