Science Helps Law Enforcement Tackle a Growing Problem on National Forests


Garbage covers the forest floor at an illegal marijuana grow siteIllegal marijuana growing operations on national forests pose serious risks to water resources and wildlife. Even in California, where marijuana is now legal and regulated to protect the environment and consumers, water diversion, water pollution, and poisoned animals result from illegal operations that are often run by international drug organizations—and the problems are increasing. A recent Forest Service blog post highlights several research efforts that are helping law enforcement officers detect illegal growing operations as well as anticipate where they may be set up next. Among the featured research is a study led by Center research ecologist Frank Koch and published in Ecological Economics that modeled how marijuana street prices, grow site characteristics, production costs, and dangers of being caught affect illegal growers’ decisions on where to establish their operations. Koch and his research collaborators are developing maps that show the likelihood of illegal growing operations across regional areas. Read more on the Forest Service blog…

Pictured: Garbage covers the forest floor at an illegal marijuana grow site on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in California. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.


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