Garbage, Fertilizer, Rodenticide, Insecticide Removed When Recent Trespass Grow Successfully Cleaned Up
When law enforcement removed a trespass marijuana grow this June on national forest land in Trinity County, they saved millions of gallons of water and allowed the cleanup of potentially hazardous rodenticides, insecticides and fertilizers, too, according to Mourad Gabriel, Ph.d and Executive Director of the Integral Ecology Research Center (IERC). Over 15,000 plants were removed from the nearly three acre complex.
After the marijuana was removed, IERC and others went in a few weeks later and helped clear the site of trash and chemicals.
“This operation brings the tally to 29 cultivation sites we and collaborators have been able to reclaim on our public lands since 2014,” Gabriel wrote. “This specific site had over 3/4 of a ton of refuse and nearly 2 miles of irrigation line in addition to deleterious items that pose as threats to wildlife and salmonid populations.”
Below is a report which includes photos that scientists with IERC compiled on the cleanup:
Shasta-Trinity National Forest is home to numerous game species and non-game wildlife which are dependent on the unique critical habitat attributes that public lands within this bioregion provide. In late June 2016, a large public land, trespass marijuana cultivation complex named Dubakella Grow was discovered on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest managed by the United States Forest Service.
Dubakella Grow Site lies on the Salt Creek Watershed which contributes to the South Fork Trinity River, a Hydrological Unit with a salmonid population that is functionally independent with a high risk of extinction (NMFS 2014). The Salt Creek watershed is considered to be adversely impacted by illegal water withdrawals, and nutrient and pesticide loading that is associated with outdoor marijuana cultivation (NMFS 2014). This cultivation site lies within United States Fish and Wildlife Service delineated Critical Habitat for the Northern Spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) that is listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ECOS 2016).Finally, adjacent previous cultivation sites (<1mile) which Integral Ecology Research Center (IERC) is currently monitoring have detected Pacific fishers, which are a species of conservation concern, both state and federally.
The Dubakella site was quickly eradicated by federal, state and local Law Enforcement in order to disrupt the continued misuse of these public lands and over 15,000 plants were removed from an affected area of 2.96 acres. Research scientists from IERC were brought into the site to document and ascertain the magnitude of impact that this trespass grow had. During initial documentation of the site, an estimated several thousand feet of irrigation line, numerous substantial water diversions, significant tree removal, hundreds of pounds of fertilizer and several containers of illegal and restricted use pesticides were recorded. The site was placed on a high-priority list for documentation and reclamation due to these factors, and correspondingly was placed as a site for long-term monitoring for potential legacy influences. Reclamation operations were completed September 7, 2016.
Environmental Conservation Online System. 2016. United States Fish and Wildlife Service http://ecos.fws.gov/ecp/ accessed September 2016.
National Marine Fisheries Service. 2014. Final Recovery Plan for the Southern Oregon/Northern California Coast Evolutionarily Significant Unit of Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch). National Marine Fisheries Service. Arcata, CA.
Dubakella Reclamation Synopsis September 7, 2016
Governmental: Trinity County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) & U.S. Forest Service
Non-Governmental: Integral Ecology Research Center (IERC), Trinity County Resource Conservation District (TCRCD), The Watershed Center (TWC),
Reclamation Organizers: Drs. Mourad Gabriel and Greta Wengert (IERC); Donna Rupp (TCRCD); Tom Evans (TWC)
Support: Logistical and financial support was contributed by the above-mentioned entities. Specific funding for the reclamation of this trespass marijuana cultivation complex was provided by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery Grant to TCRCD and a Section 6 grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Integral Ecology Research Center.
Number of trespass sites cleaned: One large complex Location of site: Shasta-Trinity National Forest Watershed impacted: South Fork Trinity River
Personnel: 14 total; TCRCD(4), IERC (6), TWC (3), USFS (1)
Total water diversion restored to watersheds: 11.25 million gallons (per grow season)
Total amount of trees cut: 149 trees
Total amount of fertilizer used at site: 430 pounds
Total amount of rodenticide used at sites: 6.6 pounds; illegal containers of zinc phosphide; aluminum phosphide (restricted-use pesticide)
Insecticide used at sites: 32 oz of banned toxicant Carbofuran in an illegal container.
Grow site trash removed: 1,540 lbs Irrigation pipe removed: 9,940ft (1.88 miles) Estimated Cost for Reclamation: $8,920