On October 11, 2012, the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) sent a letter to Regional Forester Randy Moore, and four Forest Supervisors in northwestern California, that requests the United States Forest Service initiate analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regarding the impacts of marijuana cultivation on national forest lands. In addition, EPIC requested that the Forest Service reinitiate consultation under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) over the impacts of marijuana cultivation on imperiled species, including Coho Salmon, Steelhead, Northern Spotted Owl and Pacific Fisher.
This letter follows a previous letter sent to the Mendocino National Forest in the summer of 2011, and to which the Acting Supervisor of the Mendocino National Forest had replied negatively, denying EPIC’s request that the USFS initiate analysis of the environmental impacts of marijuana cultivation on public lands.
Besides the ongoing threats posed by damaging marijuana cultivation on public lands, EPIC has identified effects of Forest Service management actions that may be exacerbating or facilitating marijuana cultivation on our public lands. “The letter sets forth legal obligations of the Forest Service in the face of new information about environmental impacts not previously considered by the agency in the development and implementation of Land and Resource Management Plans, Travel Management Plans, logging, grazing, and other projects,” said Andrew Orahoske, EPIC conservation director. “The Forest Service is obligated to analyze and respond to new information pursuant to NEPA and meet ongoing duties under the ESA,” continued Orahoske.
“Our effort to engage the Forest Service on this issue is something that EPIC may have initiated more than a year ago, but we are not the only stakeholders asking that land managers undertake analysis to understand the implications of this threat to our public lands,” said EPIC executive director Gary Graham Hughes. “Congressman Mike Thompson has now stated publicly that more study is needed,” Hughes added, “and we think that it is only a matter of time before the federal government commits to providing their land managers with the resources needed to analyze the impacts and fully understand the management issues related to this persistent threat.”
The effort by EPIC to secure appropriate analysis of these impacts by federal land management agencies will be featured at a symposium titled Environmental Challenges of Marijuana Agriculture in the Age of Prohibition, to be held on the Humboldt State University campus on Friday afternoon, Oct 12. The Humboldt Interdisciplinary Institute for Marijuana Research is hosting the symposium that will feature panels composed of local environmental organizations, community members, and public officials exploring the threats and opportunities presented by cannabis agriculture on the North Coast of California.