Many people illegally growing marijuana place their grow sites in forests, particularly in California. These areas, often public lands, are difficult to reach and hard for law enforcement to monitor, making them good for concealing the growers’ activities. But to plant crops in these remote, often hilly or mountainous, locations, growers must first clear away trees to create enough open land. They also often clear away the under-growth, both of which contribute to increased soil erosion because there are fewer plants holding soil in place. Ultimately, this also increases the risk of landslides.
Individual growing areas can be up to several acres or even square miles and can be spread over multiple sites. In northern California alone, the amount of land used for illegally growing marijuana has doubled in the last five years. This illegal land use is contributing to deforestation and eliminating animal habitats, which are discussed further in other posts.