Marijuana impacts on public lands subject of meeting

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    Marijuana impacts on public lands subject of meeting

    Illegal marijuana grows on public lands and the environmental damage they cause is the focus of a Lake County Fish and Wildlife Advisory Committee meeting to be held Thursday at the Lake County Courthouse in Lakeport.

    Speakers include representatives from the Bureau of Land Management and the state Department of Justice's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP). Committee Chairman Greg Giusti said the committee plans to develop white papers from the forum to present to the boards of supervisors in Lake and Mendocino counties, in the hopes they will forward the information to state agencies and "bring more money to the problem."

    He believes it's the first forum of its kind in the state because it specifically addresses the ways large, illegal marijuana gardens affect area fish, wildlife and the environment.

    "I think the scope and the scale of the environmental impact will surprise a lot of people," Giusti said.

    The impacts include illegal damming of streams and water diversion, wildlife poaching, the use of poisons to kill small mammals, fertilizers poured in streams and garbage left in forest lands, among other issues.

    The forum is titled, "The Illegal Marijuana Production and its Impacts on Fish and Wildlife Resources in Lake and Mendocino Counties." It begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Lake County Board of Supervisors Chambers, located at 255 N. Forbes St. in Lakeport.

    The forum affects Lake and Mendocino counties because the Bureau of Land Management and CAMP are responsible for land in both counties, and illegal growing has been spotted frequently in the Mendocino National Forest.
    "We cannot ignore the elephant in the bedroom anymore," Giusti said. "We've been hearing about it for so long, and the stories are getting more intense."

    The principal speakers are BLM representatives Rich Burns and Gary Sharp. They will review more than 20 years of experience dealing with the clean-up costs and rehabilitation of destroyed habitat on public lands. Also on the agenda are Steve Brooks and Sheriff Rod Mitchell of the Lake County Sheriff's Office, as well as speakers from the U.S. Forest Service.

    By TIFFANY REVELLE The Daily Journal
    Updated: 11/16/2009 12:00:12 AM PST

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