Tribe Suspends Operation Yurok; No Large Marijuana Grows

Grow marijuana cut timberPress release from the Yurok Tribe:

After four years of aggressively eradicating environmentally destructive cannabis cultivation sites, Operation Yurok has delivered a major victory in the removal of all largescale marijuana grows on the Yurok Reservation.

“I attribute this accomplishment to the Operation Yurok team’s perseverance and tenacity toward enforcing the Tribe’s Zero Tolerance Policy, regarding all drugs, including medical marijuana,” said Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr., Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “This year, the Tribe is going to push pause on the operation, but we will continue to closely monitor tribal lands for the foreseeable future to prevent any further damage to the environment. We are also working closely with Humboldt County officials to investigate potentially illegal gardens just outside of the reservation’s borders.”

Late last week, in preparation for this year’s operation, a Yurok Police Department investigator, working with staff members from the Tribe’s environmental protection and cultural resource programs, spent two full days in a helicopter flying over the lower 44 miles of the Klamath River, but did not encounter a single, large cannabis grow.

In 2013, the Tribe initiated the first Operation Yurok in response to a fast-growing number of people who had moved to the Tribe’s lands during the so-called Green Rush. Around the same time, three counties in close proximity to the reservation also saw a steep increase in illegal marijuana production, a likely by-product of the rural region’s minimal law enforcement and prime growing conditions. More cannabis is grown in Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino Counties than anywhere else in the United States.

The operation, now in its 5th year, aims to protect the reservation community from the many impacts associated with this black market industry. Those illegally cultivating cannabis on tribal lands have severely damaged several sacred sites, as well as habitat critical to fish and wildlife. Growers have illegally dammed up and diverted the flows of creeks that provide household water supplies to reservation families and support Klamath River salmon, an invaluable traditional resource. Additionally, tribal citizens are apprehensive about venturing into the forest because of the potential to be confronted by an armed grower.

“Reservation residents will no longer have to worry about running into unsavory people when they spend time in the forest,” said Chairman O’Rourke.

In the past four years, Operation Yurok has raided grows run by individuals from the east coast of the United States, Southeast Asia and Latin America, including members of Mexican and other drug cartels. Law enforcement officers have also found guns and ammunition at almost every site.

At its peak in 2015, Operation Yurok eradicated more than 1 ton of marketable marijuana and more than 70,000 plants from 43 sites. Non-Indians were responsible for all but two of those served search warrants.

The operation has received support from multiple local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, including: the US Department of Justice, US Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, the California Governor’s Office, California National Guard Counterdrug Task Force, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, California Water Quality Control Board, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and others.

“The Tribe would like to express our sincere appreciation to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, BIA and California Governor Jerry Brown, as well as every other agency that has participated in the annual operation,” Chairman O’Rourke said.

In the years after 2015, the quantity of search warrants and cannabis plant counts lessened by about half. During the operation in July of 2017, less than 10,000 plants were removed from the reservation.

The tremendous amount of environmental damage left in the wake of the approximately 150, previously active grow sites on the reservation will require an extended and extremely expensive effort to clean up. In several cases, growers had used heavy machinery to carve deep benches into mountains, removing all of the vegetation and even the topsoil. Trash heaps containing toxic chemicals, such as petroleum products and pesticides, were left in the forest. Hundreds of miles of plastic PVC pipe are strewn across several drainages that flow into the Klamath River. These are just a few examples of the types of costly environmental issues that the Tribe will now have to figure out how resolve.

The Yurok Tribe is the largest federally recognized Indian tribe in California and has a reservation that straddles the Lower Klamath River, extending for one mile on each side of the river, from its entry into the Pacific Ocean to approximately 45 miles upriver to the confluence with the Trinity River. The Tribe’s major initiatives include: natural resources management, fisheries protection, watershed restoration, dam removal, condor reintroduction, cultural revitalization, language preservation and land acquisition.

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45 comments

  • Only 2 grows were by Non-indians?
    I thought there is no such thing as reverse racism…

  • Nice work!

  • Funny. I know of two different large growing operations there. Over 5 large (40×100) greenhouses each. But yeah- they are under the guise of county permit with allowances to continue taking water until next year. And they are not track n traced either. So blowing it out big for national market while pulling from creek yet protected by the County of Humboldt. It’s mind-blowing the amount of self-congratulatory press releases and willful denial and backroom scamming that is going on. But…the public is fed s#%t and kept in the dark so yeah- “legalization” is working ha ha!

    • No permits should be issued on Yurok res lands at all due to the tribal ” no grows” policy….

      • Sharpen your pencil

        But by all means, smoke as much meth, and shoot up as much tar as you can get your hands on though!

    • U have loose lips dude. You didnt say who but what if someone decides to go bk aftr reading your stupid comment because you wanted to sound badass. I sure hope they dont get caught and if so im sure they will find out it was you. If so i would like to b there for your ass beating.

      • do you think they actually did the aerial survey? this press release is for obtain additional grants as indicated in the last sentence of the second to last paragraph. to obtain additional grant money related to the original grant, you first must prove the original grant money was a success.

      • Riiiiight. I’m sure their cover is completely blown now. Derp!

    • look an edit your work. As its wrote you are a individual trying to get rich off something that plummeted, go home an tell the story of what was.. go home.

  • I like stars too!

    Thanks to the Yurok Tribe for sensibly managing the lands in their stewardship.

    Pot Growers have wreaked great damage, and degraded land all over the 3 Counties. Destroying sacred areas is a terrible price to pay for drug production.

    The future of Cannabis in Humboldt involves intense scrutiny, regulation and licensure. Those not wishing to operate legally in approved areas, and able to manage their farms with respect to all current laws, are politely requested to not grow Cannabis.

    For everyone else, please do not purchase or distribute Black Market Product.

    • Please everybody- ONLY purchase product grown by the Traditional Growers- not the corporate butt-kissing, got-permit-funds-from-previously-mega-grow-destruction greedy government-sympathizer sell-out accomodaters’ (who now want to drive out their old neighbors) “legalized” operations. Give your money to good families who still stand in resistance.

      • I suppose if you could form something akin to a pot CSA that might keep a small grower in business when the public finds it can by cheaper from commercial stores but still it would have to be legal to work safely.

        Demanding customer loyalty rarely works in an industry whose customers are 99% interested only in getting high.

      • Black Market Be Gone

        Wow, so the small family farmer who sees the writing on the wall, and wants to be a legal grower to keep their livelihoods is a corporate butt kisser? Please leave it community already. You have nothing to contribute and we’re tired of criminals. Get a real job, leave Humboldt, or go whine about your illicit losses elsewhere.

    • I like stars too!

      “The future of “Cannabis” in Humboldt involves intense scrutiny, regulation and licensure.”

      The brainwashing is massive. (sad face)

    • Outlaw for life. Buy black market and fuck the corporate, kiss ass hypocrites.

    • But meth, heroin, and alcohol have done nothing. Right

  • Bart does Humboldt

    Keep America Beautiful!

  • FARCE- John Ford sent a memo out a month ago explaining affidavits are no longer good and the only people legally allowed to cultivate must be in the trac and trace program. More lies from the black market drug warriors…

    • Are you saying if you are permitted, but not t&t that you are not a legal grow? They sure aren’t enforcing that.

    • Track and Trace never got off the ground here.

      “Affidavits are no longer good” as explained by Pinocchio. Ford needs sent back to San Diego where he came from.

      • In fact, if you would like, you can sign up for t&t, however, you are not forced to or required to by a certain amount of time. So, if you have a permit, which almost everyone who turned one in, does, then you can still operate black market.

  • Yup, don’t worry about running into ‘unsavory characters’ in the woods up there now that the weeds gone 😂😂
    All clear folks!

  • Now maybe they will try to find all the heroin and meth dealers. Not holding my breath

  • We need an operation Yurok all over California and Oregon, that would help to bring up black market prices!

    • You trying to go broke buying it or are you trying to get busted growing it?

      Either way I don’t get your logic.

      • More enforcement = higher price. If people can’t grow thousands of pounds in the open then the price will go up due to lack of supply. 3 years ago when there were all those fires in trinity county the price of dep went up and it was easier to move compared to the previous summer. At least in humboldt according to my buddy.

        That being said, I’m not optimistic about the future of weed, just trying to make a joke.

        • No the prices did not rise because of the fires.

          There was more weed thanwhat was needed over 10 years ago.

          Prices dropped every year, fires included, raids included, and shit-weed included.

  • There are privately owned parcels throughout the hoopa and Yurok reservations.
    I wonder if the tribe considers these “reservation lands”.
    I believe they can be bought and sold at will, unless they are held in trust for the tribe by the United States government, since native tribes are considered “soviergn dependent nations”. Nations within nations.
    Someone maybe can clarify what is meant by private property within reservation lands.

    • The Tribe considers anything within one mile of the river on each side Tribal lands in a Traditional sense regardless of current ownership. They offer to buy out those private inholdings whenever they can to consolidate the res. Long term plan is to buy all of those and get back all the Redwood NP lands in that strip and revert it all to res land.

      • Not true, well at least not totally. The tribe has been offered parcels within that mile of the river but off “the res” in response to this very thing. They refuse. It seems what they want is to own/control private land without paying for it.

  • Interesting… I checked out Upper and Lower Cappell Creek on Google Earth the other day after the Pecwan arson was reported. Unless Cappell Rd is NOT on Yurok land, they need to refly it. Huge hoop houses and obvious grows up there and from Orick to Hoopa. This is just PR.

    • Hey [edit], we live out here bordering the res. Most everyone NOT on the res, with the exception of the few neighbors not blowing it upand/or not growing at all, are in the permit process or have recieved their temp permits. Google Earth doesn’t give you that info, nor is it updated, so mind your business.

      • The writing has been on the wall for years. Yurok have been busting hard for a while now. Boggles my mind why people try to pull of cannabis gardens out there. Have fun with that!

    • Yea google earth past updated in 2015 or earlier in some cases so your info is off.

  • Generally speaking, water lines are polyethylene, not PVC. For which thank goodness, because PVC creates a number of horrid toxins when it burns, including dioxins, etc.
    Referring here to the usual black poly water line – PVC is used more for construction and electrical conduit in housing.
    If there is PVC pipe in the environment, that should take priority as far as remediation goes.

  • Thank you, Just A Local, for your perspective. Honestly, I hadn’t thought of that. I was under the impression that what I was looking at WAS Tribal Lands. That being said, Google Earth is only a slice of the intel pie and due diligence in permit searching would definitely be in order before “raiding” anyone. Thanks for the insightful reply. That’s the way discourse is supposed to work! 👍🏼

    • Sleepy Alligator

      If Google Earth were actually a “slice of the intel pie” then rural properties would be getting raided based on images that are rarely current and are often up to 5 years old.

  • As a former resouce manage working on Yurok Tribe lands I saw bad tribal clearcuts and feet deep slash left to catch fire through the summer. Sure grows can be harmful, but really folks, so is most of the so called “civilized” way of life we all live. Have you seen how much clearcutting is still going on in nocal? Its not just the tribe, east of the 5 is as checkerboarded as ever was at the peak of logging in the 80’s, And in case you didnt know or were cozy in denial, clearcuts take more water than grows, each single one of the new trees that grow behind the barren patches take just as much if not much more water out of the watershed than a weed plant ever could, sometimes over 50gal/tree/day and times that how many young trees after a clearcut? There is plenty of science that shows this and the same agencies out chipping plants to” save the enviornment from harmful grows” know it well. My point is that whatever your political affiliation, the problems are much bigger than growers or loggers or tribal members overfishing, much bigger. Deep down I think we all know this. So instead of the self rightious blame game we have all gotten so good at around here to make ourselves feel better, how about we put the kids and next generations first and take a sober look at what we are all doing to the planet. If you drive, use paper, use the internet on your phone or tablet you are also contributing to the issues. Sure some folks are greedier than others but of course that true of every industry and it is a fact that the legal ones that still are actually causing the most harm. These days it doesnt seem like it even pays to be good anymore so as a culture we are obviously slipping, and the blaming just greases the skids that we will all slide down. If we dont learn to look at the problem we have all helped to create, more broadly and constructively, we will just be bitching and blaming and scapegoating our way to a lifeless planet. Then who will be left to bitch?

    • Except I have been out on logging lands for decades (yes, trespassing) and have seen clear cut stages of regrowth in patches. Watched a clear cut from logging to relogging.
      While better practices have in recent years reduced foiling of streams from rain washing bare soil, the major difference between logging and pot grows is that logging allows decades for regrowth. Time and space for wild life. Snags, left as unmarketable, house birds. Slash provides homes and safety for everything from quail to salamanders. It decays and feeds the ground. Nearby patches of woods provide seeding.

      It is not as wholesome as unlogged old forest but it is levels above pot farms, who clear out everthing and create wild life deserts in long, connected segements that can only provide habitat if they are subsequently abandoned and nature works at the opportunity for three times as long as logged land.

      Then there is a difference in why this damage is done. One provides lumber for building. The other provides a high.

      • By that same logic at least marijuana plant grows stay the same size/same place, relatively same impact. Where as logging yearly decimating hundreds if not thousands of new acres for one time use. So persepective matters don’t you think. Can we all just remember it is just a plant after all? Who gives anyone else the right to say a plant shouldn’t be grown? Stockholm syndrome much?

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