Officials: pot garden discovered at Sierra Nevada National Park (at least $36 million). After the pot garden was discovered, a Sierra Nevada National Park exhibit closed. At least $36 million?? Read the story, and see photos and video here.
As wild as it may sound, the problem is occurring with increasing regularity. Just a week ago, firefighters in Santa Barbara’s Los Padres National park began battling an enormous wild-fire sparked by campers hired to manage another pot growing operation. As of last week, that fire had burned an area stretching more than 136 square miles.
Drug enforcement officials say the increasing problem stems from a crackdown across the border by the Mexican Army, which has pushed the armed drug cartels northward into United States territory. The number of operations uncovered usually increases this time of year due to the typical harvest dates of September through October.
This week’s bust in California is one of the largest yet, and is the first time Sequoia National Park had to close down an exhibit as a result of a drug bust. Sadly, that exhibit is a well-known cave, with a crystal-covered interior.
Authorities discovered the massive pot garden only about a half-mile away from the popular cave. Park Rangers repelled from helicopter to clear out the site, which included trash, propane tanks, and thousands of feet of irrigation hose. Much of the pot garden had already been harvested, but combined with the remaining plants was estimated to be worth at least $36 million.
Even though Sierra Nevada National Park is known for its gargantuan Sequoia trees, the cave itself also draws many visitors.
Beth Fritsch, who was visiting the park from Maryland, told the AP:
“I’m fine with the trees, but I really wanted to see the caves. It’s sad to see that this is happening now inside the national parks.”
Far from a mere inconvenience, though, the pot growing operation has environmental and financial consequences. Park officials say the estimated loss in cave ticket sales could rise to $35,000 before the investigation is complete.
Spokeswoman Adrienne Freeman, spoke about the damage to native species that can occur, saying:
“…what’s worse, this pot has been growing next to a sensitive area where there are dozens of species at risk that are only in this park.”
All of the materials discovered will be examined for fingerprints and other evidence that could lead authorities to the individuals responsible for the $36 million pot garden at Sierra Nevada National Park.
What are your thoughts on this problem? Voice your opinion in the comments section below.
I’ve included a CNN video about the issue below.