Rangers and Partners Remove Illegal Marijuana Cultivation Site from Parks

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Date: April 13, 2016
Contact: Dana M. Dierkes, 559-565-3131

SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS, CALIFORNIA –On Monday, March 28, 2016, law enforcement park rangers from Sequoia National Park, in cooperation with the Tulare County Sheriff's Office, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, and Department of Homeland Security—Homeland Security Investigations, removed an illegal marijuana cultivation site in Sequoia National Park. A total of 8,816 young plants (worth over $22 million) were removed by hand from the park. This cultivation site was detected by park rangers a few days earlier. No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing. Please call 888-677-2746 with any tips on illegal cultivation on parkland.

Damage to the area includes: 
  • Diversion of the natural flow of water from a nearby creek and installation of irrigation lines
  • Construction of a large pit to store diverted water from a nearby creek
  • Significant clearing of natural vegetation
  • Digging of terraces into the hillside for potential planting of marijuana
  • Development of campsites, kitchen areas, and cultivation site in wild areas
"Marijuana cultivation is one of the greatest human-caused threats to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks at this time," said Chief Ranger Ned Kelleher of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. He added, "Through the concerted efforts of our law enforcement rangers and partners, we have prevented further damage to this area of the parks and have reduced potential threats to people in our gateway communities." 

Large marijuana cultivation sites can have major impacts on the Central Valley. A single marijuana plant uses 6-8 gallons of water a day. (Statistic from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife). Diverting water for marijuana cultivation takes away a source that would otherwise nurture wildlife and vegetation. In addition, water for personal use (drinking, bathing, cooking, etc.) and for crop irrigation travels from the mountains/parks to parts of the Central Valley. Water run-off from large cultivation sites can be tainted, since a large number of pesticides are used in growing marijuana. (Statistics from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife) 

For over a decade, well-organized drug-trafficking organizations have been operating large-scale cultivation operations in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. These cultivation sites cause major damage to the parks' natural resources and are a serious threat to public and staff safety. In the last 14 years, nearly 300,000 plants with a value of almost $850 million have been eradicated in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

–NPS – 

Last updated: April 14, 2016

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