SKY FOREST – No suspects were taken into custody, but a joint operation to shut down a marijuana cultivation site in the San Bernardino National Forest took place on Thursday.
Members of the Drug Enforcement Team and the United States Forest Service, conducting a joint operation, discovered 4,389 marijuana plants, camping equipment and large amounts of trash as evidence that several suspects were living within the site, caring for the crops.
“It caused irreversible damage to the forest,” according to a release that announced the joint operation of Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, known as CAMP.
Part of the damage included diverting water intended for natural resources to irrigate the marijuana plants that had been cut away through natural brush along the mountainside.
The suspected growers used commercial irrigation tubing, or pipe, to re-route the water from streams and creeks. “Based on the size of the marijuana garden found,” according to officials, “it is estimated that thousands of gallons of water each day was being diverted into the grow site.”
The discovery was made near Switzer Park in a spot known as Gilley Canyon. It was located in “extremely rugged terrain” approximately one mile south of State Highway 18, near Sky Forest.
The 8 a.m. discovery included finding plants that were producing bud, ranging in height from two to five feet. “The suspects were in the process of harvesting the marijuana,” later dried, processed and packaged for removal from the grow site, according to officials.
The ultimate destination for the marijuana crop was unknown, said officials, “but most likely would have been sold illegally.” Officials said damage to the forest areas result from such cultivation sites. Fertilizer, pesticides and animal repellents used by growers contaminate natural streams and creeks, “ultimately contaminating ground water and food for wildlife.”
Investigators removed two large cargo nets filled with supplies and trash from the site.