from the NY Times here (thanks to Mark Milligan for posting on the SAF LinkedIn site>
Below is an excerpt.
Scott Bauer, of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said, “I went out on a site yesterday where there was an active water diversion providing water to 15 different groups of people or individuals,” many of them growers. “The stream is going to dry up this year.”
While it is hard to find data on such an industry, Anthony Silvaggio, a sociology lecturer at Humboldt State University, pointed to anecdotal evidence in a Google Earth virtual “flyover” he made of the industrial farm plots and the damage they cause. The video was later enhanced and distributed by Mother Jones magazine.
Brad Job’s territory as a federal Bureau of Land Management officer includes public lands favored, he said, by Mexican drug cartels whose environmental practices are the most destructive. “The watershed was already lying on the ground bleeding,” Mr. Job said. “The people who divert water in the summer are kicking it in the stomach.”
That water is crucial to restoring local runs of imperiled Coho salmon, Chinook salmon and steelhead, which swam up Eel River tributaries by the tens of thousands before the logging era. Scott Greacen, executive director of Friends of the Eel River, said, “It’s not weed that drove the Coho to the brink of extinction, but it may kick it over the edge.” By various estimates, each plant needs at least one gallon and as much as six gallons of water during a season.
The idea that the counterculture’s crop of choice is bad for the environment has gone down hard here. Marijuana is an economic staple, particularly in Humboldt County’s rural southern end, called SoHum. Jennifer Budwig, the vice president of a local bank, estimated last year that marijuana infused more than $415 million into the county’s annual economic activity, one-quarter of the total.
For the professed hippies who moved here decades ago, marijuana farming combines defiance of society’s strictures, shared communal values and a steady income. “Marijuana has had a framework that started in the 1930s with jazz musicians,” said Gregg Gold, a psychology professor at Humboldt State University. “It’s a cultural icon of resistance to authority.”
“In 2013,” he added, “you’re asking that we reframe it in people’s minds as just another agribusiness. That’s a huge shift.”
Don’t forget that there’s a solution.. only buy marijuana sourced from Colorado and Washington. It’s only a matter of time before organic and sustainable certification…maybe FSC could develop a sideline?