SM MOUNTAINS — More than 3,000 marijuana plants in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area were destroyed this week after authorities raided three pot plantations.
Rangers from the National Park Service were joined Tuesday by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, California State Park Police, CAMP (Campaign Against Marijuana Planting) and the Mountains Conservation Authority as they entered the plantations, two of which were located in Malibu Creek State Park, while the other was found in the Zuma-Trancas Canyon area.
In all, 3,509 plants were destroyed, including 1,421 plants at Zuma Canyon, authorities said. Garbage, PVC piping, camping equipment, fertilizer and chemicals were also removed.
“This was an extremely successful collaborative effort,” said Chief Park Ranger Evan Jones. “Not only were we able to pool our resources to eradicate the marijuana plants, but we were also able to take initial steps toward site clean-up and natural resource restoration.”
Collaboration between the many local, state, and federal law enforcement and land management agencies represents a significant achievement in addressing illegal marijuana cultivation activity on public lands that poses a potential threat to visitor safety and natural resources, authorities said.
One of the sites at Zuma Canyon is located in a wildlife corridor, inhabited by a number of animals, including bobcats and mountain lions. In addition to wildlife disturbance and displacement, marijuana plantations are often sites of soil disturbance, PVC irrigation pipe installations, natural vegetation removal, large amounts of pesticides and insecticides, fertilizers and trash and septic pits.
These sites, authorities said, often have make-shift illegal campfires that pose a special risk in the greater Santa Monica Mountains area for widespread fire.
The estimated cost to clean up on cultivated acre is between $10,000 to $120,000, according to the National Park Service.
In 2007, approximately 3,900 marijuana plants were found on National Park Service land within the Santa Monica Mountains at Trancas Canyon, with an estimated street value of $10 million and covering 1.5 acres.
The largest marijuana cultivation seizure in the greater Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area occurred at Malibu Creek State Park in 2005, led by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and totaled approximately 28,000 plant seizures. Throughout California, 3,641,328 marijuana plants were seized on state and federal public lands in 2008.