While fighting the Waldo Canyon Fire, a 22 acre marijuana grow site was found on Forest Service land. It contained about 7,500 plants with an estimated value of $15 million.
Some of the plants were destroyed by the Waldo Canyon Fire, but other plants were removed and destroyed by the Forest Service. The facility also included a living area, dams and irrigation lines.
Since 2009, the U.S. Attorney's Office reports 16 marijuana growing operations have been raided on national forest land in Colorado. In addition to what was found during the Waldo Canyon Fire, the Drug Enforcement Administration has seized over 1,400 plants, 103 pounds of marijuana and $354,325 connected to marijuana grown on public land in Colorado this year.
The Pueblo County Sheriff's Office led a bust last week of a facility on private land within the San Isabel National Forest. More than 13,000 plants were discovered there.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says that in addition to violating drug laws, the growers often cause environmental damage. They use chemicals or poisons indiscriminately, destroy natural vegetation and divert streams.
“Those who engage in this activity are endangering public safety and harming Colorado’s treasured wild lands and high country, and will be apprehended and prosecuted to the full extent of the law," said U.S. Attorney John Walsh.
If anyone comes across a marijuana growing operation on public land, they are urged to contact the local police or sheriff, or the relevant federal department. A tip line has been established by the Forest Service to report possible marijuana growing activity on Forest Service lands by calling 303-275-5266.