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Contact: John Dell'Osso, 415-464-5135
Yesterday, National Park Service Rangers from Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area, agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Marin County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Park Police, California Fish and Game, and the US Coast Guard entered two marijuana grow sites and confiscated approximately 2,250 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of $8.8 million dollars. The site is located along Bolinas Ridge in western Marin County.
In 2006, approximately 44,000 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of $176 million dollars were removed from Point Reyes National Seashore, Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Marin Municipal Water District lands. Other National Park Service sites in California have also removed large areas of marijuana including Yosemite National Park, Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks, Redwood National and State Parks, and Whiskeytown National Recreation Area.
"Park rangers and other agency personnel have been working diligently to reduce drug activity on public lands. We want to make sure park visitors are safe and park resources are protected," stated Colin Smith, Chief Law Enforcement Ranger at Point Reyes National Seashore. "We are concerned not only about the illegal drugs being grown on National Park Service land, but also the damage that such operations cause to vegetation, water resources and wildlife."
Lieutenant Don Wick of the Marin County Sheriff’s Office stated, "This has been an ongoing and historical problem in our County. This is a clear, self-serving abuse of our vast public lands. Yesterday’s multi-agency approach to address this illegal activity was a successful endeavor."
"Marijuana cultivation on public lands is becoming more prevalent and California's natural treasures are paying the environmental price. DEA will continue to collaborate with our counterparts in law enforcement to combat criminal organizations who operate these illicit grows and pose a serious threat to our national parks, forests, and public safety," stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams.
The areas under cultivation suffered extensive resource damage from the growing operations. Preliminary estimates show numerous trees were damaged to make the site. Additionally, a large water holding pond was dug into the hillside, and an extensive irrigation system was constructed to bring water into the site. Growers are killing wildlife, diverting streams that contain threatened species of fish, using harmful pesticides and bringing the presence of violence to these natural areas.
"The National Park Service wants to thank the other agencies involved in this multi-jurisdictional effort, including National Park Service Rangers from Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Park Police, Marin County Sheriff’s Office, California Department of Fish & Game and US Coast Guard" stated Superintendent Don Neubacher. "Without critical funding from Senator Dianne Feinstein, this eradication effort may not have been possible."
Efforts are underway to remove all the garbage from the site and to begin restoration work.