3,500 marijuana plants found in Santa Monica Mountains
The pot patch, the 14th discovered on National Park Service land in the past two years, was found in the Zuma/Trancas Canyon by a ranger who spotted a plastic water hose in a creek. Rangers searching the area came across nine marijuana plots.
Federal and state workers have been clearing the area for the past two weeks, hauling out herbicides, pesticides, rodent fencing, fertilizer and two miles of plastic water hose. Water had been diverted from a nearby creek to irrigate the plants, and native vegetation had been cut down to make room for the plants.
“Marijuana cultivation is a serious and rising problem in the Santa Monica Mountains and other park lands across the country,” said Park Superintendent Woody Smeck in a statement. “The environmental damage caused by marijuana cultivation in otherwise pristine natural areas costs approximately $12,000 per acre to clean up.”
The remote park land of the Santa Monica Mountains are popular locations for illicit marijuana operations. Last year, Los Angeles and Ventura County sheriff's deputies confiscated some 42,000 marijuana plants -- worth $130 million -- in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Park rangers regularly patrol the mountains throughout the marijuana growing season in summer and fall. Hikers are asked to report any suspicious activity such as drip irrigation lines lying next to or in streams, collections of supplies and food left at roadside pull-outs, propane tanks, and camping equipment in unusual locations.
-- Ashlie Rodriguez
Photo: A park ranger cleans up a marijuana grow site in the Santa Monica Mountains. Credit: National Park Service