Marijuana cultivation in forests appears to be increasing, authorities said as investigators in California seized 7,000 mature plants. The Los Angeles Times says it was the fourth and largest pot farm destroyed by law enforcers in the last month. Nearly 16,000 pot plants worth $48 million have been seized this season. Pot is Ventura County’s sixth most valuable crop, behind avocados and celery.
The Times said the situation took a “dangerous turn” when a hunter walking near pot plantings in a national forest near Ojai, Ca., was fired on by three men with automatic weapons. Armed attacks by marijuana growers are an ominous development, said Kathy Good of the U.S. Forest Service.
Good said the problem of illicit marijuana cultivation appears to be on the rise. Last year, 47,000 marijuana plants and 20 large-scale “gardens” were destroyed in Los Padres. “I’m sure we’ll break that record this summer,” Good said.
Another official said pot farms endanger wildlife as well as to hikers and hunters. The pot farm raided yesterday is located in a streambed that is home to threatened fish, plants, amphibians and birds, including the California condor.