Recent study underscores the environmental cost of illegal marijuana cultivation

Discarded fertilizer boxes reflect not only how marijuana cultivation is introducing agro-chemicals into sensitive natural landscapes, but also trash and solid waste pollution. Supply lines shown here are used to deliver illegally diverted stream water to tanks where it is used to water several marijuana gardens. These kinds of diversions can completely dry streams, stranding and killing fish. Photo credit: Jennifer Carah, The Nature Conservancy

29 Jul 2015
News Source: BioScience

Image: Discarded fertilizer boxes reflect not only how marijuana cultivation is introducing agro-chemicals into sensitive natural landscapes, but also trash and solid waste pollution. Supply lines shown here are used to deliver illegally diverted stream water to tanks where it is used to water several marijuana gardens. These kinds of diversions can completely dry streams, stranding and killing fish. Photo credit: Jennifer Carah, The Nature Conservancy [Click image to enlarge]

Eel River CZO ecohydrologist Sally Thompson and ecologists Stephanie Carlson and Mary Power worked with The Nature Conservancy to explore the collateral damage caused by illegal marijuana cultivation.  A new paper, published in BioScience, discusses the liberalization of marijuana policies across the United States and suggests that the environmental damage caused by wildland grow operations should be part of the public discourse on marijuana legalization. 

“The sad fact is that the Eel and coastal rivers like it are on a knife edge. All of these wonderful native fishes are on the brink of coming back, and it is very frustrating that their recovery – which has taken 50 years and is actually a fairly encouraging recovery for the fish and for the older Eel habitat – is being derailed by the marijuana ‘green rush'"-Mary Power 

Press Coverage:

Thirsty marijuana plants cause concern in California - Boston Globe--Brainiac by Kevin Hartnett

The High Environmental Cost Of Illicit Marijuana Cultivation - Yale Environment 360 by Diane Toomey

How Marijuana Farming is Worsening California’s Drought…And What We Can Do to Help - The Nature Conservancy

 

A former marijuana cultivation site adjacent to the Shasta/Trinity National Forest. The site was illegally clear cut and graded to create the garden site, causing significant erosion as well as fragmentation of natural habitat.

Photo credit: Jennifer Carah, The Nature Conservancy


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People Involved

CZO

Publications

2015

High Time for Conservation: Adding the Environment to the Debate on Marijuana Liberalization. Carah, J., Howard, J., Thompson, S.E., Short Gianotti, A.G., Bauer, S., Carlson, S.M., Dralle, D.N., Gabriel, M.W., Hulette, L., Johnson, B., Knight, C., Kupferberg, S., Martin, S., Naylor, R., Power, M.E. (2015): BioScience (Advance Access)


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Discipline Tags and CZOs

Biology / Ecology
Hydrology

Eel

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