Illegal Cannabis Operation Clean Up by CDFW

Mounds of Trash and Banned Pesticides Removed from Pristine Region

Wildlife officers at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) completed a cleanup of an illegal cannabis operation in the Los Padres National Forest on Dec. 4. The grow complex was located one mile north of Ragged Point in the Big Sur region of Monterey County.

Wildlife officers were assisted by the California Department of Food and Agriculture on the ground and the National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing Counterdrug Task Force, which provided air support for removing trash.

The illegal grow was removed in July 2020 and two men pled guilty in November 2020.

“This site was overrun with trash and dangerous pesticides at every corner of the grow complex,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “I’m proud of the work that was completed on this mission by our wildlife officers and support team.”

The team removed approximately 3,000 lbs. of trash, hundreds of feet of plastic irrigation piping, two makeshift stoves and other discarded camping equipment. Much of the trash was located in a seasonal stream channel, which led to the Pacific Ocean. If left in place, much of that garbage could have been carried to the coastline by high stream flows from winter rains.

Officers also removed numerous bottles of rodenticides, insecticides and high concentrate fertilizers, which can be lethal to fish and wildlife. Several additional bottles of the banned pesticide carbofuran were also discovered hidden throughout the site and removed.

Along with this, the remains of two deer and one dead skunk were discovered, which were likely poisoned from the illegal pesticides at the grow.

Cleanup, restoration and remediation are critical components of CDFW’s cannabis program, which is funded by the cannabis tax fund. Each site is approached differently, depending upon the location and available resources.

CDFW is currently developing a grant program to support restoration efforts on land impacted by cannabis grows near sensitive watersheds. A portion of that funding will be focused on the impacts from trespass grows such as this one.

The public can report environmental crimes to the CalTIP hotline at (888) 334-2258 or by texting “CALTIP”, followed by a space and the message, to 847411 (tip411).