Famed for the world’s biggest trees, Sequoia National Park in California is number one in another flora department: marijuana growing, reports the Los Angeles Times. Parts of Sequoia are off limits for visitors and park rangers during the April-to-October growing season, when drug lords cultivate pot on an agribusiness-scale. ”In a national park, everything is protected,” says one federal agent. ”You’re not even supposed to take a pine cone. It’s beyond what should be acceptable in today’s society.”
Officials, however, have reported five encounters between gun-wielding growers and visitors on national forest lands in California this year. The growers poach wildlife, spill pesticides, divert water from streams, and dump tons of trash. Yet enforcement is lagging. Rangers lack helicopters and manpower, and elected officials have other priorities, including homeland security and fighting drug cartels in South and Central America. In the last year, 100,000 marijuana plants have been removed from California national parks, including 44,000 from Sequoia.