Tags: educational state forests
The '60s are long gone, man. The guys growing ganga out in the woods are gangsters not hippies, the National Forest Service warns in a news release.
While only a fraction of National Forest System lands are affected by illegal marijuana cultivation, the Forest Service says the safety risks are real. 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, the release says.
In addition to the danger to people who find marijuana patches in the woods, the pot plots themselves cause extensive and long-term damage to the forests and to supplies of public drinking water for hundreds of miles. Growers damage the land when they clear it for planting and then spoil it with herbicides and other chemicals, and they often dam creeks and siphon water for irrigation.
National Forests in North Carolina conserve more than 1.2 million acres for recreation and forestry research in four forests (below): the Nantahala and Pisgah in the mountains, the Uwharrie in the state's Piedmont, and the Croatan at the coast. Another 43,000 acres in the state are set aside in Bladen Lakes and DuPont State Forests, in seven Educational State Forests and in eight research forests operated by N.C. State University.
In the year ending October 30, the Forest Service found more than 38,200 marijuana plants in national forests here, including a large seizure in the Pisgah National Forest near Hot Springs, Forest Service spokesman Stevin Westcott told The News & Observer. They found 3,010 plants the year before.
The release provides these clues that you may have come across a marijuana cultivation site:
* 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.
* 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.
So, stay safe in the woods. If you stumble upon a pot patch, leave the way you came in, the Forest Service says, making as little noise as possible. Report as much information as you can to local law enforcement or any uniformed member of the Forest Service.