Forest Service Reclamation Cleans Up Illegal Grow Sites

May 16, 2018

Several agencies helped LEI operations in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest Service which focused on reclamation of illegal marijuana grows.
Credit Shasta-Trinity National Forest Service

In a multi-agency effort, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest Service restored several illegal marijuana grow sites. Through Law Enforcement and Investigations, a grow site reclamation operation was conducted. The operation focused on eight sites in Trinity County, which impact the South Fork of the Trinity River was completed from May 8 to May 11, 2018. 

Agencies involved were able to restore the eight original sites as well as reclaim four additional sites within the area. According to a Forest Service report, the operation was difficult because most sites were not accessible by roads.

Helicopters air lifted garbage and irrigation piping and also removed 950 pounds of fertilizer, 30 pounds of hazardous materials which include pesticides, 24 propane tanks, 12 car batteries and 31.38 miles of irrigation hose. In total, LEI reported that the operation restored 95 percent of the 69 acres of land involved in the grow sites. 

A press release issued by the Shasta-Trinity National Forest Service is below: 

 Law Enforcement and Investigations (LEI) on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest completed a marijuana grow site reclamation operation focused on sites in Trinity County that affected the South Fork of the Trinity River.  The operation was funded by the Forest Service Pacific Southwest Regional Office with resources set aside strictly for marijuana grow site clean ups. 

“These grow sites were in remote locations and were difficult to access, making remediation efforts challenging and costly,” explained Patrol Captain Carson Harris. “The sites are far from roads, and because they contain toxic pesticides and other hazardous materials, HAZMAT protocols must be followed.”

In February 2018, LEI, assisted by Integral Ecology Research Center (IERC) and the Watershed Research and Training Center, were able to collect grow infrastructure into pre-staged sling load sites at eight different marijuana grows for removal with a helicopter at a later date. "To reduce the grow site impacts and discourage illegal growers from returning, we remove all the infrastructure. If we leave it intact, growers will return and reuse the same sites,” said Harris.

From May 7 through May 11, LEI, assisted by IERC, the Watershed Center, Trinity County Resource Conservation District, Trinity County Sheriff’s Office, California Department of Justice (Siskiyou Major Investigation Team and North State Marijuana Investigation Team) and California National Guard performed reclamation on the eight pre-staged marijuana grows. They were able to reclaim four additional marijuana grow sites as well.

“We used helicopters to air-lift tons of garbage and miles of irrigation piping. The team removed 950 pounds of fertilizer, 30 pounds of hazardous materials including pesticides, 24 propane tanks, 12 car batteries and 31.38 miles of irrigation hose. The total weight of infrastructure removed from the sites was 21,895 pounds,” stated Harris. 

Law Enforcement and Investigations is pleased to report that this operation restored 95 percent of the 69 acres of land involved in these grow sites. This operation could not have been successful without the support and dedication from our cooperating agencies and partners. LEI on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest is committed to reclaiming our national forest system land and striving to preserve our natural resources for the public and for generations to come.