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July 02, 2011

It’s becoming more common on public lands all across the west coast: large scale marijuana plantations. These illicit grow operations, often funded by Mexican drug cartels, are sophisticated operations. Irrigation, fertilizer, and equipment is hauled high up into remote areas of the forests.
Earlier this month, bear hunters in Oregon stumbled on what turned out to be the largest marijuana plantation that state has ever seized, by far - more than 91,000 marijuana plants growing in a remote canyon in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. Six armed growers were arrested. Police removed or destroyed the pot plants.
And the problem is a local one too. Chelan county seized and destroyed more than 80,000 plants just a few seasons ago.
Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest spokeswoman Robin DiMario warns people to keep an eye out for marijuana growers, because it is always possible you will stumble onto a plantation.

DiMario said if you see marijuana growing out in the forest, be careful, back out the way you came, and report it. In fact, it’s already happened this season.

But DiMario urged all hunters and hikers to be very careful, because marijuana growers can be protective of their illicit cash crop.

That’s Robin DiMario with the Okanogan-Wenatchee national forest. The battle against marijuana growers on public lands is ongoing. Not only is growing the drug illegal, but it can also be quite damaging to the forests themselves.

Some years Chelan County leads the state for the amount of marijuana seized. But the numbers have been down the last 2 years. Tofind out about the plans for cracking down on growers this season, KOHO’s Isaac Kaplan-Woolner spoke with the man who will lead the charge.

Sheriff Burnett reiterated that anyone who comes across an outdoor marijuana plantation should use caution, leave the area, and contact law enforcement.


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