Marijuana grow raided on San Juan Ridge
A multi-agency task force on Tuesday raided an illegal marijuana grow on the San Juan Ridge, seizing nearly 4,000 plants, according to a release from the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff’s deputies, along with personnel from Campaign Against Marijuana Planting and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, escorted scientists from the California Water Resource Board to a property off Jackass Flats Road.
Deputies had been investigating a large-scale cannabis grow that appeared to have significant negative impact to the surrounding forest lands and watershed, with seasonal runoff potentially entering the south fork of the Yuba River below Edwards Crossing via Spring Creek.
“It was brought to our attention by the water board,” said sheriff’s Lt. Rob Bringolf. “They provided us with a list of properties that were of concern.”
According to Bringolf, above Edwards Crossing there are a number of large marijuana grows on ridge tops that can easily be seen via Google Earth.
“They’re right above the river,” he said. “Any runoff will go to Spring Creek or the South Fork.”
During the warrant search, several environmental violations were noted. A total of 3,877 marijuana plants and an undetermined amount of marijuana cola on the stem was seized. There were no state or local cannabis permits associated with this property, Bringolf said.
In addition to what appears to be an illegal cannabis cultivation operation, the investigation is focusing on the overall negative impact to the county’s natural resources from large areas of unpermitted grading, several structures that had been erected without permits, and the use of chemical fertilizers.
“There were several massive hoop houses there, all dug into the hillside,” Bringolf said. “There was also an unpermitted residence, and a hangar-type building being used to dry and process marijuana.”
County code enforcement officers were present to help. Three people were found on the property, and several others were believed to have fled. An environmental impact report will be included in a final report to the district attorney.
No one was arrested during the search, Bringolf said, adding that filing charges against the landowner would be at the discretion of the District Attorney’s Office.
“The aggravating factor in this case to make it a felony is the environmental crime,” he said. “Illegal cultivation is just a misdemeanor.”
The water board’s cannabis cultivation program was created in 2017 to ensure the diversion of water and discharge of waste associated with cultivation does not have a negative impact on water quality, aquatic habitat, riparian habitat, wetlands and springs. Its Cannabis Enforcement Unit inspects and investigates both permitted and unpermitted cultivation sites, and coordinates with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, the state Department of Food and Agriculture, and local governments, according to its website.
A water board spokesman couldn’t be reached for comment.
To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.
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