Deep inside Northern California’s Shasta-Trinity National Forest, wildlife ecologist Mourad Gabriel is dressed in camouflage, waiting for the raid.
He’s accompanied by far more than a dozen armed officers with the U.S. Forest Service, regional sheriff’s workplace, and other agencies on a hot August afternoon. Their strategy: to seize and dismantle a nearby illegal marijuana grow website, hundreds of which are found on California’s national forests each and every year.
At this site—just off Route 36, east of Redding, and down a rocky forest valley—more than four,000 marijuana plants develop beneath sugar pine and Douglas fir. There is also a campsite with numerous tents, two cisterns, and hundreds of feet of irrigation pipe.
Through the raid, officers arrest two alleged growers. After the website is secured, Gabriel and his companion, Greta Wengert, move in to assess the environmental harm and clean it the greatest they can. For the final six years, the pair has warned about the unsafe pesticides identified at a lot of of these web sites and the connected effect on regional wildlife. Growers typically use pesticides, some of them banned and very toxic, to defend the marijuana plants and their camps from insects and animals. [Read more at National Geographic]