Northern California

Danger of marijuana cultivation on the Pacific Crest Trail

By: Jack Haskel
April 5th, 2013

While only a fraction of our public lands are affected by illegal marijuana cultivation, the Pacific Crest Trail Association, Forest Service and our other agency partners believe that safety risks are real and everyone should be informed about them. Dangerous marijuana cultivation sites may be present on the Pacific Crest Trail corridor, especially in Southern California, but also all along the trail.

The safety of Pacific Crest Trail visitors, volunteers and employees is our top priority. Marijuana cultivation occurs on some public land and it’s important for everyone to be aware of their surroundings.

The disturbances that marijuana cultivation makes on natural resources causes extensive and long-term damage to ecosystems and impacts the supplies of public drinking water for hundreds of miles. Growers clear native vegetation before planting and sometimes use miles of black plastic tubing to transport large volumes of water from creeks that are often dammed for irrigation. The use of banned herbicides and pesticides by marijuana growers kill wildlife and competing vegetation. This loss of vegetation allows rainwater to erode the soil and wash poisons, human waste, and trash from the grow sites into streams and rivers.

Here are some clues that you may have come across a marijuana cultivation site:

  • Sometimes marijuana smells like a skunk on hot days.
  • Hoses or drip lines located in unusual or unexpected places.
  • A well-used trail where there shouldn’t be one.
  • People standing along roads without vehicles present, or in areas where loitering appears unusual.
  • Grow sites are usually found in isolated locations, in rough steep terrain.
  • Camps containing cooking and sleeping areas with food, fertilizer, weapons, garbage, rat poison, and/or dead animals.
  • Small propane bottles, which are used to avoid the detection of wood smoke.
  • Individuals armed with rifles out of hunting season.

As soon as you become aware that you have come upon a cultivation site, back out immediately. Never engage the growers as these are extremely dangerous people. If you can identify a landmark or record a GPS coordinate, that’s very helpful. The growers may be present and may or may not know that you have found their grow site.

Get to a safe place and report as much detail about the location and incident as you can recall to any uniformed land agency employee or to the local law enforcement agency. Please also notify the PCTA. Leave the way you came in, and make as little noise as possible.

Additionally:


 

U.S. Forest Service. (2011). Be Safe on Our Public Lands – What to do if you Encounter a Marijuana Cultivation Site. Retrieved from http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/inyo/alerts-notices/?cid=stelprdb5324909

October 25, 2012

By: Tom

Trail is clear from I-5 to Scott Mtn Summitt.

Middle of October with no rain yet and water sources were the only real problem. Permanent water has been marked from the trail in 2 places and are worth the small detour to fill up. One is past Burstarse Creek and the other up by Devil’s Pocket.

July 14, 2012

Just back from logging out trail from poison springs to hwy 36 . This will update my report from Belden to hwy 36 that is now cleared for stock travel plus all our hiking friends. Cleared over 150 down trees in this 46 mile plus section. Happy trails guys.

July 9, 2012

Hiking north from Seiad Valley the 0.6 mile section between the saddle at Lower Devil’s peak and the Darkey Creek Trail turn-off is Badly eroded.Due to the fire, no vegetastion and rockfall from above has in places obliterated actual tread.300 drop on left, not passable for stock IMO.Tail needs to be rerouted 30 feet higher where ther is some stabilizing brush, or at the least dug out(but problem will re-occur) easiest acess from Cook and Geeen Pass to avoid
4400 foot climb to damaged section!

June 16, 2012

Have been logging out from Belden north as a member of backcountry horseman.Two other members have assisted as well, and as of June 14,2012 we have made it to Poison Springs from Belden. Happy to report this section is open to stock travel. Lower crossing of Chips creek is still high but appears to be OK. We will be working on the Poison springs to Lake Alamador in the next 30 days.

Stream areas are a little thick with brush but trail is visible.