Weekly newspaper of Three Rivers, California, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks

The rugged, remote Devils Canyon area, south of South Fork Drive and just outside Sequoia National Park’s southwesterly boundary. (Click arrows for additional photos.)An aerial photo of a 2005 grow site in Devils Canyon and an example of how marijuana plants are easily camouflaged and hidden beneath the dense tree canopy.A closeup of eradicated pot from a Devils Canyon grow site in 2005.

Marijuana grow sites eradicated in South Fork's Devils Canyon

By: 
John Elliott

 

When it comes to the current laws governing the cultivation and use of marijuana, it’s not surprising there is disconnect among the various governments trying to get a handle on marijuana and how it should be used and regulated. In the view of the federal government, marijuana is an illegal drug; a Class 1 narcotic barely distinguishable from heroin, a highly addictive narcotic. 
 
To lend some legitimacy, the legalized variety is now called commonly by its more sophisticated name — cannabis. Call it what you will but on July 23 and 24, for the umpteenth time since law enforcement began conducting raids of Three Rivers grow sites in 1990, another 19,000 plants were removed from Devils Canyon. 
 
Devils Canyon is about eight miles up South Fork Drive from Highway 198, in remote steep terrain at 4,000 to 5,000 feet elevation on BLM land. When the task force that included a number of Tulare County Sheriff’s Office deputies raided the South Fork complex, they discovered the usual water diversion, large amounts of trash, and numerous chemicals used in the cultivation. 
 
Several campsites were also located but no suspects were taken into custody.
 
In September 2005, members of the statewide CAMP (Campaign Against Marijuana Planting) task force escorted media on helicopter tours of the area to inspect some of the targeted grow sites. In that season alone, more than 100,000 pot plants were removed from grow sites in the
Three Rivers area.
 
Ironically, Devils Canyon was the principal place used in 2005 for helicopter flyovers to demonstrate how the clandestine plantings are spotted from the air. Apparently, the disconnect that exists in government over pot policy also exists among the cartels that continue to use the same grow sites year after year. 
 
Although there is no longer the extent of growing in the Three Rivers environs that was present 20 years ago, illegal grow sites remain a serious problem because of depredation to natural resources, especially water.
 
The current investigation into illegal grow sites is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to call the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, (559) 733-6218. To make an anonymous report, call the TipNow program, (559) 725-4194.
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