Summer Safety Message: Beware of Marijuana Growers!

As asked for by a reader, the straight scoop on safety in the woods with regard to  marijuana cultivation. Here’s a link to a video that shows some pot growing on the Mendocino.


Be safe in the National Forests
What to do if you encounter a marijuana cultivation site
Marijuana growers are active in the nation’s national forests and it’s important for your safety to be aware of your surroundings.
If you encounter a drug operation, 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 operation. Get to a safe place and report the encounter to any uniformed member of the Forest Service or to your local law enforcement agency.

Here are some clues that you may have come across a marijuana cultivation site:
 The smell of marijuana, especially on hot days, is like a skunk.
 Hoses or drip lines located in unusual or unexpected places.
 A well-used trail where there shouldn’t be one.
 Voices coming from an unusual place.
 People standing along roads without vehicles present, or in areas where loitering appears
 Grow sites are usually found in isolated locations, in rough steep terrain (typically between
500 to 5,500 feet elevation.)
 Camps containing cooking and sleeping areas with food, fertilizer, weapons, garbage,
rat poison, and/or dead animals.
 Small propane bottles (so that the grower avoids 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, or have encountered
any of the above situations, back out immediately! Leave the way you came in, and make as
little noise as possible.
Get to a safe place and, as soon as possible, report the encounter to any uniformed member
of the Forest Service or to your local law enforcement agency. Report as much detail about
the location and incident as you can recall.

3 thoughts on “Summer Safety Message: Beware of Marijuana Growers!”

  1. How about one more suggestion? Go home and lobby your state and federal representatives to legalize and heavily tax the production of marijuana. End result: no more grows on federal lands and no need for all the helpful advice in this post.

  2. After notifying the law enforcement officials, please write a letter or send an e-mai8l to the government entity that has cogizance. I don’t have any idea who that would be. If the land is a Naitional Forest or National Park, I would suggest your Congressman with a copy to the Congressman in whose district the grow is located. If the grow is in a state forest or park, I wold think the Governor should know how to adress the problem. If it is private land, I would think the zoning authority, city or county would know who is responsible foir land use. Also please post a copy of your letter or e-mail on this blog to see what type or response to expect. Maybe together we can find someone who acknowledges responsiblity for controlling unauthorized use of forests.

  3. In my field-going career of 25 years, I have seen just one pot plant growing on National Forest lands. That single plant was all of 3 inches tall, and in a very nice lunch spot. I have occasionally seen tubing and debris from several years ago. I have seen some pictures of some grow sites, and I have to marvel at the ingenuity of these people to hide their plots. On the other hand, I have also seen aerial photos of hundreds of plants with their bright greens against a dull-green or brown background. Did they think that no one would see that patch from the air?!??

    With the availability of medicinal marijuana, and the legal growth of it in some states, the value of those “guerilla plots” are much, much less. Pot busts are always inflated on cash values, as well. Some local law enforcement folks have “alternative” tactics and goals. There is a LOT more money in seizing grower’s assets than in destroying crops. Sometimes the local Sheriff has a wink-wink relationship with some growers, tipping off growers when busts are made. I’d bet that more weed is grown in urban areas, these days, with networks of entire houses filled with grow lights, bypassing electric meters.

    Still, there IS danger out there, and at the first hint of a plantation site, make a U-turn and leave. Do not appear to have seen anything, and hope you get away.


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