Illegal cannabis cultivation has just been discovered in a remote gorge in California’s Death Valley.
The acreage was discovered when park rangers patrolling Death Valley National Park stumbled upon the large acreage. The operation is ironically located in Jail Canyon, a rarely visited part of the park that is on the west side of the Panamint Mountains. This natural site between Nevada and California is not often frequented by tourists or hikers.
While illegal and unlicensed cannabis cultivation is already a problem for California, a state trying to combat the illegal cultivation and sale of cannabis, it is an even bigger business than normally unlicensed cannabis cultivation because it was discovered in a national Park. National parks are state, so producers are likely to have even more problems if caught.
Additionally, this is worrying as harmful cannabis cultivation can be harmful if not done properly and in an environmentally conscious manner. Growing cannabis in Death Valley could have extreme, harmful effects on the environment.
A park spokesman said the plan was to “photograph the scale and (hopefully) encourage producers to leave the site for the time being.” By announcing that they have seen this growth and know the troubles growers would be in, the hope is that growers will turn it over to the authorities and reduce their losses.
Cannabis not infrequently grows in Death Valley
This may seem like an unusual place to find a cannabis grow, especially based on the ominous name, but in fact, this is one of hundreds of grow areas found in Death Valley over the past decade. Finding and eliminating them is a huge priority as the chemicals used in pesticides, the clearing of land, and the divergence of water can have a major negative impact on the environment.
The park service statement also alleged that another hazard would be encountered by growers in growing on remote trails or in certain areas. They are known to threaten hikers who accidentally discover their crops.
“The natural and cultural resources in these areas are irreplaceable and priceless. When they are damaged for profit, it shows an incredible disrespect for our homeland,” said Barbara Durham, traditional heritage protection officer of the Timbisha Shoshone tribe, according to the official statement. The Timbisha Shoshone Tribe reserve is located in the park.
“It is devastating to see irreparable damage to a fragile ecosystem that is rich in rare natural and cultural resources,” said Chief Ranger Rob Wissinger.
They also made statements about the damage done and their concerns about the illegal operation.
“We are deeply saddened and concerned about the damage these illegal activities are causing,” said Durham.
If you are hiking in Death Valley and come across an illegal cannabis farm, the experts recommend leaving the area immediately and notifying the National Park Service tip number at 888-653-0009.
Jail Canyon is currently closed while authorities are trying to get more information about the growth and are hoping to discourage growers from returning. It is not yet clear when the area will reopen or what will happen in the future, but most likely it will depend on whether or not the owners of the cultivation are discovered.
While access to cannabis is an important right in California and all constitutional states, it’s also important to respect the environment by growing only in sanctioned and approved land, not in national parks that need to be protected and protected.