Pot farm discoveries in Mono County prompt warning for hikers
Illegal pot farms are widespread throughout the wilderness and hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts are strongly urged to be on watch for telltale signs -- and to flee these areas as quickly as possible.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park has been in the news regarding this issue in recent months, but the latest discovery was made last week in Mono County in the Eastern Sierra, specifically in remote areas of the Glass Mountains and Wildrose Canyons.
The Mono Narcotic Enforcement Team (MONET), with help from numerous other agencies, spent hours eradicating more than 26,300 marijuana plants from the combined sites. Potential street value was estimated to be more than $78 million. No arrests were made.
The sites were on U.S. Forest Service land and that agency has planned an extensive cleanup and restoration of the areas damaged by the cultivators. Meanwhile, the Mono County Sheriff's Department has issued the following warning to people planning on recreating in the area wilderness:
"MONET would like to warn outdoor enthusiasts of the dangers of locating one of these grows while enjoying the outdoors. If you see anything that looks out of place such as cleared areas of forest that should not be, fertilizer bags, black plastic pipes, large camps where there should not be, or growing marijuana, you should immediately leave the area and note the location if possible and notify the appropriate law enforcement agency.
"These large scale marijuana cultivators are known to be armed and will sometimes protect the gardens at any expense."
-- Pete Thomas
Photo of pot plants by Associated Press