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“Trespass grows” are illicit cannabis grows on public lands. Trespass grows constitute one of California’s leading environmental threats by poisoning wildlife on a landscape scale, contaminating water and soil with EPA-banned toxicants , and severely dewatering watersheds.

Today Show "Mexican Cartels are Growing Marijuana in California's National Forests"

NBC News"'We're one cigarette away': Illegal Marijuana Farms Pose Wildfire Risks in California's Parched National Forests"

NPR "Illegal Pot Operations In Public Forests Are Poisoning Wildlife And Water"

The Atlantic "The Environmental Catastrophe in Your Joint"

Project Goals:

1. Secure and increase state and federal resources for trespass grow reclamation

2. Increase Forest Service law enforcement and overall presence in National Forests to prevent new grows from activating 

3. Increase criminal penalties for those bringing toxicants onto public lands

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The Basics:

  • Trespass grows account for 40-70% of CA’s illicit cannabis market [1]

  • 80% of trespass grows are on national forest (NF) lands [2]

  • Over 90% of trespass grows are controlled by drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) [3]

  • Since 2000, over 23 million plants have been eradicated on CA NFs [4]

  • Since 2016, over 3 million plants have been eradicated on CA NFs [4]

  • Only 1 in 5 public lands cannabis plants are eradicated annually [2]

  • In 2018, 90% of sites contained lethal, controlled or banned pesticides [3], including Sarin-based malathion, Brodifacoum/Bromadiolone, Carbofuran, Methamidophos, and Cholecalciferol [5]

  • 30-40% of trespass grows go undetected [13]

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Impacts to Communities


  • Contaminated watersheds; communities/tribes at great risk of toxicant exposure

  • Reduced flows for fisheries, agriculture, tribal gathering, timber production, etc.

  • Negative impact to local and state economy (e.g. costly clean-ups, increased enforcement)

  • Reduced access to public lands as “no-go areas” due to DTO grows

  • Recreation, hunting and other uses of public lands poses toxicant exposure risk

  • Undercuts the legal cannabis market

  • Loss in ecosystem services, such as clean water and air

To view references, click here

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Impacts to Wildlife

  • 70% of Northern Spotted Owls (ESA Listed) poisoned by rodenticide [6]

  • 80% of Pacific fishers (ESA Candidate) tested positive for up to 5 rodenticides [7]

  • 92% of mountain lions statewide test positive for one or more pesticide, particularly rodenticides [8]












Impacts to Water

  • More than 9 billion gallons of water per year are illegally diverted for trespass grows, or 27,600 acre feet (a yearly water supply for nearly 30,000 homes, or the City of Redding) [12]

  • Watershed diversion from trespass grows can account for 23-50% of total surface flow [9]

  • Approximately 6 gallons of water per plant per day [10]

  • Water theft exceeds minimum instream flows for certain watersheds [11]

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