I was inspired recently to write an article about the problems drugs bring to the parks when I visited Olympic National Park earlier this summer. As recreational visitors to the national parks, we may not be aware of the battle behind the scenes to keep drugs out of the parks. I was told a story by a long-time law enforcement ranger that surprised me, and made me realize the burden to the resource they represent.
In my most recent article written for the Frommers.com newsletter, "Pot Growers Put Parks at Risk, Rangers on Alert", I relay that story told to me. In a nutshell, drug users looking for an easy buck have discovered that they can harvest moss, salal, and even trees to sell quickly on the black market for drug money. In one night, they can poach every bit of the hanging mosses from trees like the Big Leaf Maple that would have taken many generations to grow. It is for this reason, he told me, he keeps the location of some particularly mossy (and easily accessible by car) groves a secret, with the hope that trees will remain protected from these criminals.
The drug story is very current in parks, and frequently pops up in news articles. In the Frommer's piece, I reference a drug bust in Olympic, a raid in Whiskeytown, and growing operations in Yosemite, all of which have occurred in the last month. Thanks to contributor "Merryland" for bringing the Whiskeytown raid to our attention.