Forest Service targets marijuana cultivation in national forests

The Forest Service is advising hikers, campers, birdwatchers, and other forest visitors to be mindful of an “extremely dangerous” group of forest users: marijuana growers.

The National Forests of North Carolina today issued a press release addressing the public safety and ecosystem threats posed by marijuana cultivation. NFNC press officer Stevin Westcott tells Xpress that marijuana seizures in North Carolina during fiscal year 2010 totaled 38,202 plants; that was a big increase over the number of plants seized the year before, when the total was just 3,010 plants. “There was a large crop discovered on the Pisgah National Forest near Hot Springs last year,” says Westcott, “so that seizure really ratcheted up the total number.”

Issued by the agency’s central Washington, D.C. office, the release advises forest visitors who think they may have stumbled upon a marijuana growing area to take steps to protect themselves and to report what they find.

The release offers “some clues that you may have come across a marijuana cultivation site,” including:
Sometimes marijuana smells like a skunk on hot days.
Hoses or drip lines located in unusual or unexpected places.
A well-used trail where there shouldn’t be one.
People standing along roads without vehicles present, or in areas where loitering appears unusual.
Grow sites are usually found in isolated locations, in rough steep terrain.
Camps containing cooking and sleeping areas with food, fertilizer, weapons, garbage, rat poison and/or dead animals.
Small propane bottles, used to avoid the detection of wood smoke.
Individuals armed with rifles out of hunting season.

The announcement continues:

“As soon as you become aware that you have come upon a cultivation site, back out immediately. Never engage the growers as these are extremely dangerous people. If you can identify a landmark or record a GPS coordinate, that’s very helpful. The growers may be present and may or may not know that you have found their grow site. 

“Get to a safe place and report as much detail about the location and incident as you can recall to any uniformed member of the Forest Service or to your local law enforcement agency. Leave the way you came in, and make as little noise as possible.”


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14 thoughts on “Forest Service targets marijuana cultivation in national forests

  1. dpewen

    Leave the pot growers alone! They are not dangerous and pot is not a drug … it grows wild and I love it … and so do all my friends … we are not criminals!!!

  2. Dionysis

    “Leave the pot growers alone! They are not dangerous…”

    While I share your sentiment to a large degree, and personally believe marijuana possession should not be a crime, the fact is that growers are causing a lot of environmental damage in this country’s national forests. It’s happening all over the country. Of course, if sensible people were to ever prevail, this problem would go away, as would the current spectacle of drug cartels using the proceeds from pot running to fund really serious drug smuggling and more.

    Legalize it and sell it like alcohol; revenue would increase into tax coffers. And, as Portugal and Belgium have shown, when it is legalized, use among young people drops.

  3. ashevillain7

    Just an FYI…

    1. Q: Do you know what else smells like skunk (other than a skunk)? A: Galax

    2. Q: Do you know what else could be confused for “hoses or driplines in unusual or unexpected places?” A: A pipe from a natural underground spring (i.e. fresh water source for hikers/backpackers/campers)

    3. Q: Do you know what else could constitute “a well used trail where there shouldn’t be one?” A: Animal trails, a trail leading to a geographical point of interest not on a map (map makers don’t document every waterfall/overlook/campsite out there!), or a trail that is a shortcut (otherwise known as a social trail.)

    4. Q: Do you know who else could be “standing along a road without a vehicle present?” A: An Appalachian Trail Thru Hiker (or any other long distance backpacker) waiting for a ride in to town.

    5: Q: Do you know why else there are camps with cooking and sleeping areas? A: Some people like to backpack into the wilderness and sleep in a tent for recreation and those people usually like to cook a hot meal like the rest of the population of humans who eat food.

    6. Q: Do you know why else small propane bottles are used? A: To cook meals in Wilderness areas that are designated for no fire rings (ex: Shining Rock Wilderness, Middle Prong Wilderness).

    I hope this helps people understand some things that might go on in the forest.

  4. x1134x

    These crops have ZERO plans of being harvested and sold. THESE ARE DECOY PLOTS. The cartels can spend $500 bucks to setup these plots. The DEA will spend $5,000 per hour for 5 days to pick the weeds out with helicopters. This is the same strategy we enabled the Afghans to use against the soviets. When $500 of their dollars can neutralize many tens of thousands, they will simply win by causing us to spend more than we can afford, to get ZERO RESULTS because they NEVER INTENDED TO HARVEST THE PLOT.

    The fastest way to stop the pillaging of the national forest lands is to regulate and tax the allowable, adult, repsonsible usage as was done when alcohol prohibition was found to be a dismal failure, as it didn’t reduce consumption rates, it increased youth consumption and crime and violent crimes SKYROCKETED.

  5. ConservativeChristian

    Jesus said to do unto others as we would have them to do unto us. None of us would want our child thrown in jail with the sexual predators for using a little marijuana. None of us would want to see an older family member’s home confiscated and sold by the police for growing a couple of marijuana plants to ease their aches and pains. It’s time to stop putting our own families in jail. It’s time to let ordinary Americans grow a little marijuana in their own back yards; how about $100 per year for an annual permit to grow a dozen plants? This will go a long way toward getting the criminal drug gangs out of our forests and putting them out of business for good! Also, check out if you’d like to see some more very positive material about Jesus at work in people’s lives.

  6. Jacquie Hammond

    This practice is environmentally harmful and equates to deforestation. Cutting down native trees in a protected forest to cultivate marijuana is not ok.
    I agree that legalizing it and selling it as a crop on authorized land is a better option.

  7. caitlin

    First of all pot does not damage anything growing in the forests deer love them & they are high in well needed nutrients. The point is they are using very expensive means of “plucking weeds” wasting our taxdollars so we can’t get healthcare or other very much needed resources. The pot plant also puts off oxygen than any other plant on earth… kinda helps with the global warming issues we have now doesnt it?. Its a shame that some people still believe their propaganda. The time has come for the people to wake up & its happening. How fast is up to us. We all have to stand up and say yes we cannibus. Set the regulations & guidelines & we have to stop our government from hiding the truth from the people for its own selfish needs. Isn’t that really what it boils down to in the end? This corrupt government that buzzes over my peas & corn & our other neighbors close by. We are not growing pot but they fly over us like we were murderers … as far as we can figure out simply because we have greenhouses. This has to stop. I see them flying over & wasting fuel and money while i can’t even get good healthcare. America will become the shame of the world if its people do not remind its government that it was created. FOR THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE AND TO SERVE THE INTERESTS OF THE PEOPLE. WAKE UP AMERICA.

  8. jeff

    Mat ~ Thanks for posting that Charleston link about hidden cameras at US Forest Service campsites. We camp in the National Forest all the time at designated sites. It’s really creepin’ me out that they are doing secret photo surveillance and they think it’s okay.

  9. jon.tomas

    Marijuana/cannabis has been consumed by mankind for at least 3,000 years – with no problems. All of the trouble that now swirls around marijuana is created by the counter-productive, fraudulent marijuana prohibition. Just like the miserable failure of alcohol prohibition, marijuana prohibition has never accomplished ONE positive thing in all it’s shameful decades. It has ONLY caused vast amounts of crime, violence, death, and the severe diminishment of EVERYONE’S freedom!

    Yes, gangs in the forests are a danger — just like bootleggers’ stills created danger in the forests.

    It’s WAY past time to end the monstrously destructive, counter-productive, crime inducing, violence fostering, corruption spreading, freedom destroying FRAUD of marijuana prohibition!

    California, and perhaps a few other states, will likely do so at the polls next year. If so, most of the rest states, and the feds, will follow soon. The vile marijuana prohibition beast is gasping its last breaths. Let’s put it out of its misery.

  10. Dionysis

    “pot does not damage anything growing in the forests…”

    No it doesn’t, but the illicit growers do. It’s not the plant that is the problem, it’s those growing it that clear out sensitive areas, use pesticides, leave trash everywhere, spoil the water table and so forth.

    Take away the incentive to do this and lots of good will follow.

    Now, just where DID I hide my bong?

  11. Pfft. People like the owners of [i]High Times[/i] are the biggest roadblocks to legalization.

    Just as the war on drugs funds a bunch of nifty companies hell-bent on paramilitary madness, so does the war on the war on drugs keep a lot of unscrupulous potheads wealthy and publishing the screed.

  12. jon.tomas


    Sorry. That’s just silliness. There’s nothing unscrupulous about High Times or any other cannabis magazine.

    Are magazines like “Wine Enthusiast” unscrupulous, or keep alcohol prohibition going?

    The cannabis magazines will make even more money after re-legalization, of course.

  13. bill smith

    [i]First of all pot does not damage anything growing in the forests deer love them & they are high in well needed nutrients.[/i]

    As Dio points out that is just so very, very inaccurate. Sure, wild cannabis does not harm the forest. But a pot plantation is not wild, and does an incredible amount of damage to the ecosystem when one looks at the amount of trash, environmental destruction, fert. run-off, etc

    [b]Are magazines like “Wine Enthusiast” unscrupulous, or keep alcohol prohibition going?[/b]

    I’m pretty sure Prohibition ended like 80 years ago.

    [b]California, and perhaps a few other states, will likely do so at the polls next year. [/b]

    “Legalization”?? Highly unlikely. The existing medical programs are very functional.

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