The "land of many uses" is not intended for growing marijuana, and the U.S. Forest Service announced Thursday that it had eradicated nearly 4,000 marijuana plants growing illegally in the Pike National Forest.
More than 3,000 pounds of irrigation pipe, pesticides, camping gear, flammable liquids and trash was seized from the grow site in the Green Mountain area of Jefferson County, according to a Forest Service news release.
The marijuana plants looked like they had been growing for at least year, Tammy Williams, a spokeswoman for the Forest Service, wrote in an email Thursday afternoon. The Forest Service would not divulge how many acres the grow had consumed because it is under investigation. Forty-onegrow sites have been found in Colorado forests since 2008, and more than 100,000 plants have been destroyed, according to Williams.
"We are committed to pursuing every feasible action necessary to prevent harm to the natural resources and ecosystems on public lands," she wrote.
Millions of pounds of marijuana were illegally produced in national forestland in the late 1990s, according to a description of the drug control program on the Forest Service's website. At that time, nearly half of all seized plants were coming from the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky. Elsewhere, dozens of clandestine meth labs have been discovered.
The sites are often guarded or booby trapped, presenting a danger to the public, and the diversion of water, destruction of timber and vegetation can cause serious damage to the forests, according to the Forest Service.
Illegal marijuana cultivation aided by herbicides, pesticides and rodent deterrents can cause "extensive and long-term damage to ecosystems and impact public drinking water for hundreds of miles," Williams wrote in the email.
Water illegally diverted to grow the plants depletes public drinking water supplies and destroys fish and wildlife habitats.
The illegal grow destroyed this week was eradicated by the Forest Service, the Department of Homeland Security, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and the Colorado National Guard Joint Counter Drug Task Force. No arrests have been made.
Anyone with information about the case should call U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement at 303-275-5266 or their local law enforcement agency.
Contact Kassondra Cloos: 636-0362
Twitter: @Kassondra Cloos