To the Editor:
This letter is intended to serve as a public statement about marijuana agriculture in Northern California on behalf of EPIC -the Environmental Protection Information Center. Our organization wants to be clear about unsustainable and destructive practices associated with the marijuana industry. Cannabis obviously has the potential to contribute in a positive way to a viable and diversified local economy that does not degrade the natural qualities and authentic rural culture of our bioregion. Due to the egregious behavior of an increasing number of irresponsible cannabis growers, the positive potential of this industry is being squandered.
Based upon the information we have seen in media reports, the enforcement actions on Tuesday, Aug. 27 on Mattole Canyon Creek near Ettersburg exemplified the position of several conservation groups in our area that authorities must focus their marijuana enforcement actions on those operations that result in environmental crimes such as this one. The scale of the operation and the audacity of the water withdrawal, a result of what seems to be an absence of winter water storage, is very worrisome, in that it must be only one example of environmentally degrading operations under way in watersheds around the region. The apparent absolute abuse of scarce water resources is the type of practice that merits legal and media attention. Clearly, pumping water directly from a watercourse at this date, and in these unprecedented dry climatological conditions, is to cause serious harm to aquatic systems, including a variety of endangered species. This is completely unsustainable, and is a violation of the most basic fundaments of a stewardship based land ethic.
Responsible economic activity is a cornerstone to protecting our environment. For instance, EPIC has never been an organization that was opposed to logging per se. EPIC has always advocated for the establishment of a wood products industry that treats the landscape with care, that protects irreplaceable native ecosystems, and that democratizes economic opportunity. We advocate in the same vein around cannabis agriculture: unsustainable practices must come to an end, and responsible operations that promote the restoration of our watersheds must become the norm. EPIC hopes that a frank and open debate will arise of enforcement actions such as those carried out on Mattole Canyon Creek last week, in order that our community responds in an integrated and responsible manner to these behaviors that are putting our environment, our economy, and our future generations at risk.