An illegal cannabis grow was just discovered in a remote canyon located in California’s Death Valley.
The grow site was discovered when park rangers patrolling Death Valley National Park stumbled across the large site. At 40 acres, the operation is, ironically, located in Jail Canyon, a part of the park that is rarely visited and is located on the western side of the Panamint Mountains. Situated between Nevada and California, this natural site is not often frequented by tourists or hikers.
While illicit and unlicensed cannabis grows are already a problem for California, a state that is trying to crack down on the illegal growing and selling of cannabis, this is an even bigger deal than an unlicensed grow normally would be because it was discovered in a national park. National parks are federal land, and therefore the growers are likely going to be in even more trouble if they are caught.
Additionally, this is a concern because of how damaging cannabis grows can be if not done properly and with the environment in mind. Growing cannabis in Death Valley could have extreme, detrimental impacts on the environment.
A park spokesperson states that the plan for now is to “photograph the extent and to (hopefully) encourage the growers to abandon the site.” By publicizing that they found this grow, knowing how much trouble the growers would be in, the hope is that the growers will yield it to authorities and cut their losses.
Cannabis Grows Not Uncommon In Death Valley
This may seem like an unusual place to find a cannabis grow, especially based on the foreboding name, but actually, this is one of hundreds of grows that have been found in Death Valley over the past ten years or so. Looking for and getting rid of them is a big priority, as the chemicals used in pesticides, the clearing of the land, and the diverging of water can all have a big, negative impact on the environment.
The park service’s statement also claimed that another danger with the grows is running into the growers on remote trails or in certain areas. They have reportedly been known to threaten hikers who accidentally discover their crop.
“The natural and cultural resources in these areas are irreplaceable and invaluable, damaging them for profit shows incredible disrespect to our homeland,” Barbara Durham, Traditional Historic Preservation Officer for the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, said according to the official statement. The Timbisha Shoshone Tribe’s reservation is within the park.
“Seeing irreparable damage to a fragile ecosystem rich with rare natural and cultural resources is devastating,” said Chief Ranger Rob Wissinger.
They also made statements regarding the damage done and their concern over the illegal operation.
“We are deeply saddened and concerned with the damage that these illegal activities cause,” said Durham.
If you find yourself hiking Death Valley, and you come across an illegal cannabis farm, the experts advise that you immediately leave the area and notify the National Park Service tip line by calling 888-653-0009.
Currently, Jail Canyon is closed while authorities try to get more information about the grow and hope to discourage the growers from coming back. It is not yet clear when the area will reopen or what will happen moving forward, but most likely that will depend on whether or not the owners of the grow are discovered.
While access to cannabis is an important right in California and all legal states, it is also important to respect the environment by only growing on sanctioned and approved lands, not in national parks that need protecting and conserving.