Pot Farmers Tilling Ground in Yosemite

Though much of the news involving national parks and marijuana plantations has been focused on Sequoia National Park, a bust the other day in Yosemite shows that that park has some pretty fertile ground for pot as well.

On Monday rangers in Yosemite raided three marijuana gardens and confiscated nearly 7,500 plants with an estimated street value of $22 million.

"The illegal cultivation sites bore the characteristics of a Mexican drug-trafficking enterprise, including a sophisticated watering system, use of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides," say park officials, who didn't identify where in the park the pot gardens were.

Chief Ranger Steve Shackelton says the park is working with several California counties, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, and other national parks to mount a comprehensive campaign against the California-based crime families "that often use illiterate and financially desperate Mexican nationals to do the actual cultivation."

"For years we've been seeing these people make millions of dollars in profit, while they devastate the environment on private property and California's majestic public lands. They destroy habitat, pollute streams with poisons and nitrogen fertilizers, kill wildlife, and pose a fire threat. The only thing missing is public outrage," says the chief ranger.

While it's good to hear parks are trying to crack down on marijuana cultivation within their borders, the problem isn't new and seems to be ongoing, which makes me wonder whether the Park Service truly has the resources it needs to combat this practice?


Legalization of all drugs would end this destructive practice in places like Yosemite, Sequoia and Redwood as well as put the criminals out of business. Just as Prohibition created one of the greatest crime waves in our history the so-called "War on (some) Drugs" has done the very same thing in our time.

This small patch of weed is only an outgrowth of the much larger crime of the government attempting to regulate human behavior and the use of plant derived substances that have been around and consumed for as long as humans have inhabited the earth.

It will be a great day when we can all purchase packets of marijuana seeds along with beefsteak tomatoes and pole beans at the Wal-Mart garden center. They'll be no more need to wreck precious acres in Yosemite or put victimless criminals in jail to share a shower with rapists and murderers.

The 52% of U.S. prisoners (which, by the way, is the largest population of incarcerated people in the world) who had been locked up for using or selling drugs will be out walking free and probably headed towards the newly liberated garden center themselves.

Looks like the Park Service is working with every law enforcement agency except ICE. Keep illegals out of the country and out of the parks and this pot growing problem goes away. Until illegal immigration got out of hand, there weren't marijuana fields in the National Parks.

Damn, Beamis, you beat me to the punch on that one.

Let me just add that marijuana is America's largest cash crop, bringing in $35 BILLION a year, more than wheat and corn combined. It's the most expensive flower in the world. (For more info, check out Pollan's Botany of Desire).

Once prohibition ends, those who don't want to buy seeds and grow could be able to buy marijuana cigarettes packs, just like tobacco. A ten percent tax would yield billions which would be enough to support the park service along with the millions and millions saved by releasing half the prison population.

Reform the National Park Service!

Time for a controlled burn to reduce the understory...

I love how people talk about a fictitious future as though it were set in stone. I can see it now: MaryJane National Monument, a cooperation of big business and greedy government looking for more tax revenue. So long as it's self-supporting, who cares if you have to sell your soul to the devil as part of the bargain? Very sad... and explains a lot about some people's stances regarding a lot of other issues discussed in this forum.

-- Jon

Since when is being able to make personal decisions about what substances you wish to freely ingest is about "selling ones soul"? I personally disagree with Frank's suggestion that the government should get any tax revenue from the future sale of currently illicit drugs but do think that the growing of marijuana in a remote area, like Yosemite, is a small symptom of a much bigger problem. The drug war done nothing to slackened demand but has been successful in raising prices that have only made criminals richer and more powerful as well as the streets of our cities more violent.

Who's soul is really being sold?

What about those toxic meth labs that are stuck way into the Sierra foothills, talk about chemical junk left behind. Were dealing with a nasty breed of people that could care less about the toxic chemicals that they dump into are pristine streams and rivers surrounding our National Parks. This is a huge national issue that calls for the National Guard to eradicate these deviant criminals from their drug pens, and inflict them with the most severest punishment...off to Pelican Bay!! Remind you, this isn't a fancy play ground for cute kids that go wrong...it's a mean prison for mean people. The only problem is, most of the National Guard is stuck in Bush's war that keeps draining this countries precious resources into a endless hell basket.

Yeah, beamis, I don't really agree with my statement either. Just presenting options.

The devil didn't create marijuana; isn't god the source of all life on the planet? Oh, wait. Evolution. So I guess there's no devil or soul. In which case someone's playing loose with metaphors or just relying on cliches...explains a lot about some people's stances regarding a lot of other issues discussed in this forum. Very sad.

Reform the National Park Service!

I would just love to tell you EXACTLY what I think about tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs, but we're all making this effort to be more civil now, so I'll refrain from insulting folks here, even though it is something I wouldn't hesitate to say in person. For now, you'll have to decipher the metaphors (which isn't really all that difficult).

This is a perfect job for the National Guard, not the National God.

-- Jon

A Chronic Problem....not with Marijuana seeds in Walmart...intresting thought. I say Yes. Sell them in Home Depot too.

The National Guard is never used for routine police work. They were called out for national emergencies like Hurricane Katrina, the L. A. riots and they have been used as support for the Border Patrol.

Pot growing in the National Parks and other public lands is a big problem. But there is no national consensus to legalize marijuana and since politics is the art of the possible, legalization simply isn't going to happen. So we have to look at what is possible. The pot growers are all illegal aliens. The latest Rasmussen poll said that 79% of Americans supported the new crackdown on illegals. Arrest and deport illegal aliens and the pot fields will vanish. Set up checkpoints near the parks that grow pot for valid driver's licenses. Illegals don't have valid driver's licenses in California. Impound their trucks and their equipment.

One of these days some hapless hiker or group of hikers is going to be found shot dead near one of these marijuana fields. Those that want safe parks need to support efforts to crackdown on this crime wave.

That's just it -- I don't consider this routine police work. People from outside our country are here growing, harvesting and selling illegal drugs. If that's not a good use of the National Guard, I don't know what is. And if people don't consider this a national emergency, no wonder we're being so sluggish in our response to it. The FLETC training for park rangers does not adequately prepare them for this line of work.

-- Jon

Beamis, my guess is that you're a fan of DPA.

Kath, these pot farms are loaded with land mines! The National Guard prepares it's soldier to be keenly aware of these deadly devices, and has the knowledgeable and tactical personnel to defuse these booby traps of sorts. Remind you, these are highly trained combatant soldiers ready for Iraq...we could use them now. No more pussy footing around if pot is legal or not....the punks are destroying the woods. Damn it, get after the SOB's, either throw them out of the country or into the slammer...and let them rot like compost. Sick of this drug crap in the woods.

I'm not saying they, the National Guard, shouldn't be used, what I'm saying is: I think there are laws preventing them from being used for police work inside the U. S. I think it's something called the Posse Comitatus Act.

Thank you, I wish we could get everyone to see the light. Now we just need to VOTE for like minded people!!!!!!!!

Kath. wasn't the National Guard used to quell the L.A. riots in the 1960's and 1980's...and in Detroit. Sure they can be used in the National Parks. B.S. to the "Posse Comitatus Act"...I say, get the SOB's!

Think about this! Right now we are paying farmers to not grow on land because we have an over abundance of alot of these crops and it drives the price for that crop so low that it is more profitable for the farmers to not grow on this land. they call it CPR ground and it is still costing the taxpayers to pay these farmers to not grow on it. We have a welfare system that is so fraudulent it is pathetic. These people need jobs, not a life of welfare which again, is payed by the people who pay taxes.Why not put this land and people back to work by legalizing pot! The farmers will be able to do what they do, FARM. It would create jobs for people to get off welfare and back to contributing to society. The government could control the quality and the quantity and make it available to responsible adults at government run stores. The tax money generated by the 20 million americans that smoke pot DAILY would support schools, local government and would allow states to build lots of new prisons and harbor the real criminals. With all that extra revenue,there would be no early release of hardened criminals because of overcrowding and no such thing as getting out early because of good behavior!!! They are in jail for crimes commited, how in the hell can there be "good behavior"? Also, Take a man with a family that goes to jail for selling pot. Not only do we put him in the system, but now, with the bread winner in jail, (tax payer burden) , without his income, it forces the rest of his immediate family into the system ( welfare, food stamps) to survive. (tax payer burden)!! With legalization of pot, I think the people who are involved in the distribution of harder drugs ( meth, cocaine, heroin,etc) will stand out like sore thumbs. Also if you take all the regular joes out of the pot selling buisness, the harder drugs will lose a great deal of thier distribution networks which will make them stand out for arrest and prosecution. With all those new jail from the tax money, all arrested will have plenty of room to do out thier entire sentence. Remember, pot is consumed the exact way it is put on this earth. There is no processing to get it. All other Drugs, including alcohol are the product of man!! I know its not the perfect solution, but we have to start somewhere and I promise you that you will not stop 20 million americans a day from smoking pot!! NO WAY.

Well you can petition your representatives to repeal the Posse Comitatus Act which has been in effect since the days of Reconstruction....or.....(much easier) get them to just enforce the laws on the books now using more ICE and DEA with the help of the NPS.

that's funny. the national guard will cause more environmental damage going after the growers than the growers themselves cause.

From the NPS website, 31 August:

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area (CA)
Grower Arrested In Marijuana Plantation Raid

Acting on information received from a California National Guard drug interdiction helicopter pilot returning from a reconnaissance flight in an adjoining county, an NPS special agent and deputies from the Shasta County Sheriffs Office marijuana eradication team conducted a ground reconnaissance of a suspected cultivation site complex operated by Mexican nationals near the west boundary of the park on Willow Creek. Agents located and entered a 6,428-plant cultivation site and apprehended Francisco Huato Sanchez of Michoacan, Mexico, when he exited a living structure where he was cooking breakfast. Sanchez was contacted from a distance of less than six feet and immediately surrendered. He was armed with a loaded .45 caliber Llama Model 1911 semiautomatic pistol. A .22 caliber revolver, a pellet gun and two 12 gauge shotgun rounds were also located at the site, but no shotgun was found. It’s possible that a second grower fled the scene during the arrest of Sanchez. Prosecution is pending in federal court in the Eastern District of California. A significant portion of Whiskeytown NRA remains closed for visitor safety due to the possibility that a second grower armed with a shotgun is at large. [Submitted by Alan Foster, Special Agent]

There are ONLY 20 million daily pot smokers???? I have a feeling that is a count of the people who ADMIT to a daily habit and not a realistic number of all daily pot smokers. I am going to guess that the number is much higher, at least double that figure. The solution to the problem lies with us and we are the only ones who have any chance of coming up with a sloution. Past experience has proven that the issue is too volatile for any politician to want to get involved. A candidate who publically takes either side of the issue is committing political suicide. If we wish to be responsible citizens, we have only two choices: 1 - stop smoking pot unless we are growing it illegally for our own consumption (which is never going to happen...daily pot smokers tend to be lazy and not all that industrious) or 2 - legalize marijuana. The latter option seems more feasible. I am not here to promote the use of marijuana, simply to say that illegal usage of marijuana is here to stay unless we change the laws and remove its illegal status. To be honest, as intoxicants are concerned, I think marijuana is probably the least toxic and poses the least threat to the general public, unless of course, you find shelves stripped of Oreos and milk and the general apathetic attitude of the user to be of major concern or threat to our society.

It is not the government's business what I choose to voluntarily ingest into my own body. As long as I am not harming other people it remains a victimless act, no worse or better than sitting down this afternoon and belching my way through six cans of beer while watching the Georgia-South Carolina game.

Let's start to save the wild places from illegal cultivators by allowing everyone the right to grow the stuff in their own yard or apartment window box. As long as it remains illegal it will always attract criminals, because the artificially high market price created by its illegality is too much of lure for those wishing to cash in (just like the prohibition of alcohol created the greatest crime wave in U.S. history).

Let's go after real criminals and leave the personal decisions of adults about what they choose to ingest up to their own discretion. By the way, hemp is a wonderfully renewable and adaptable resource that is being unfairly restricted just because some finger wagging nanny-state power mongers are afraid someone might grow a little smokable bud out in the green fastness of their hemp field. God forbid! It would be just like restricting the cultivation of corn because some folks make some moonshine from it. Oh the HORRORS!

Is it too much to ask to be left alone and not have the government trying to regulate every aspect of people's personal behavior. Unfortunately I think most of you out there support Big Brother and his crusade to save us from ourselves.

I wonder how many users/contributors of this site have used cannabis in national parks? I bet the answer would surprise many. The secret life of drugs in park, indeed.

Drugs are a serious problem and seeing these marijuana plantations makes me think about how serious the problem really is. Drug smugglers are really powerful, they keep pushing drugs down to the market and the result is mostly disastrous. How can we stop this?
Drug rehab facility