Rogue Sonoma County cannabis grows costing state $1.5M to clean

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Assembly member Jim Wood (D- Healdsburg) has just announced that the administration is providing $1.5 million in the state budget to fund environmental cleanup of illegal cannabis grow sites in Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino Counties.

“Our beautiful pristine forests have become havens for these illegal grow sites,” said Mr. Wood, who represents these North Coast counties. “These illegitimate growers have continued to ignore not only state laws for farming cannabis, but have left these sites ravaged by lethal chemicals, clear-cutting and thousands of pounds of trash.”

Mr. Wood represents the 2nd Assembly District, which includes all of Del Norte, Trinity, Humboldt and Mendocino counties, plus northern and coastal Sonoma County, including the northern half of Santa Rosa.

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. agreed, stating, “These illegal grow sites do untold damage to forests and wildlife along the North Coast and with Assemblymember Wood’s leadership, we’re doing something about it.”

Chemical pond at illegal marijuana grow site. (Photo courtesy Assembly member Jim Wood)

Chemical pond at illegal marijuana grow site. (Photo courtesy Assembly member Jim Wood)

These illegal sites often use chemicals such as often-banned rodenticides – used to keep animals away- that often also kill pacific fishers, deer and bear as well as the animals that prey upon them such as mountain lions, bobcats, hawks and spotted owls. These toxins remain in the ground, eventually running off into rivers and streams often killing endangered fish species such as Coho salmon.

“These funds will go to our well-established Fisheries Restoration Grant Program which was created to address declining populations of wild salmon and steelhead trout, and deteriorating fish habitat in California,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham. “The $1.5 million will help us continue to clean up the egregious environmental damage, specifically to California’s waterways, caused by illegal marijuana cultivation sites.”

Trinity County Supervisor Judy Morris supports this funding, saying, “The importance of this funding cannot be underestimated…The future health of our watersheds, fisheries, forest and communities depends on the health of both private and public lands, in which public lands make up a significantly large portion of Trinity County. The cleanup of these areas will also serve to deter any future rogue growing activity, since the associated infrastructure is a significant cost. We are extremely grateful that the Governor’s office and Assemblymember Wood are continuing to address this extremely important issue.”

The funding will be included in the Governor’s May Revise budget which will be released on Thursday, May 11.