Grass Valley and Nevada City Police officers, with the assistance of California Fish and Wildlife and the Grass Valley Fire Department, served a search warrant on an elaborate campsite sprawled across about an acre between Idaho-Maryland Road and Whispering Pines Lane Friday morning.
At the wooded, hilly site, a sizeable garden contained corn, tomatoes, squash, tobacco, lavender — and eight marijuana plants, which were cut down and collected for destruction.
An irrigation system for the garden was fed by a nearby creek, where water was being diverted via a pump into a metal 30-gallon drum.
Above the garden, a structure had been constructed with a log frame and tarps, containing a wood stove, a propane set-up for cooking, a bed and multiple file cabinets and shelves stuffed with books. Out back, a painting rested on an easel.
“He’s obviously been here for a long time,” said Grass Valley Police Det. Brian Blakemore. “This stuff isn’t easy to move.”
A person who stumbled across the camp was concerned about the environmental hazards and illegal cultivation, contacted Grass Valley and helped officers locate the camp, Blakemore said.
“We’re continually notified of camps in the wooded areas circumnavigating the city,” said Grass Valley Police Lt. Steve Johnson. “The environmental and fire hazards are important to deal with, but they’re not always easy to find — the easy ones to find have been dealt with.”
Fish and Wildlife was called in after officers discovered a large dead bird suspended above the bed in the makeshift dwelling; it was identified as a blue heron. They also reportedly found an old deer hide and some antlers. Officers located ammunition and gun-cleaning supplies, but no firearm, Blakemore said.
The subject of the search warrant, who was not being identified, was not located when officers arrived at about 7:45 a.m., and was still being sought as of Friday afternoon.
The camper will face Fish and Wildlife charges of possession of unlawful game, littering, and diverting water, as well as criminal charges for the illegal cultivation of marijuana, Blakemore said.
The owner of the property above Idaho-Maryland Road has been contacted and is very motivated to be an integral part of the cleanup, Johnson said.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
“The environmental and fire hazards are important to deal with, but they’re not always easy to find — the easy ones to find have been dealt with.”
Grass Valley Police Lt. Steve Johnson