Pubdate: Sun, 02 May 2010
Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Copyright: 2010 Record Searchlight
Author: Christine Seronello
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Opinion)


In 1970 Joni Mitchell wrote "Big Yellow Taxi," a song with this line:
"... they paved paradise and put up a parking lot." Ironically some of
the same idealists of those times who used that line as a war cry
against the "greedy developers" putting in strip malls on every corner
of the cities are now afflicted by the same viral greed. And their
kids have the same affliction. But in Trinity County, we can change
the lyrics to "they clear cut paradise to start a marijuana farm."

A Southern California man recently purchased a small piece of land in
Hayfork off Craiglist. Sight unseen. The parcel is about one and a
half acres, a mere two miles from downtown, and it wasn't
professionally surveyed. It lies on a hill in the middle of five other
properties and traverses two roads. Via telephone, he hired some
workers he'd never met to completely clear cut the property. The tally
of trees felled is 214 oaks, 27 pines, and 164 manzanita shrubs,
permanently changing the environment for all his neighbors.

One of the neighbors, whose home and 10-acre parcel have been in his
family for 30 years, approached the tree cutters with an official
county-filed map of the property lines and tried to show them that
they were cutting trees 100 feet onto his property. The tree cutter
shoved the property owner, and then the Sheriff's Department had to be
called. It was the weekend, and the deputy suggested that the cutters
stop until the county offices opened on Monday and the matter could be
resolved. This was a courtesy on the part of the deputy, as the
department has no jurisdiction over civil matters, which this is.

Because of this gesture, the tree-cutters stopped, and a few trees are
left standing. Word got back to the new property owner, and he called
the neighbor with the map and said he'd be there the next day at 10
a.m. to clear things up. From Southern California. He apologized for
the behavior of his tree cutters and said he fired them. He didn't
show up the next day, or the day after that. He didn't call, and the
neighbor doesn't know his last name or phone number.

The purpose of this land purchase? To grow marijuana and build a
1400-square-foot marijuana warehouse, according to the new property
owner. Because the parcel has water from an underground spring from
the hill above, he said he will build the warehouse on stilts. His
intentions were announced freely to at least four people in Hayfork.
He also claimed that, according to the "map" he had been given of his
property lines (the map I saw was hand drawn and outlines his parcel
in black crayon), one of the neighbors' front porch and storage shed
are on this unconfirmed property. So now we're talking about not just
clear cutting all the trees, but moving his neighbor's house and
storage shed. Then he said he plans to bulldoze to a depth of 15 to 20
feet off the hill descending from another neighbor's property. No
concern for the environmental fallout of such a drastic move of land.
Or erosion. Or drainage.

Am I expected to believe that this out-of-town stranger is a
caregiver, growing and compassionately dispensing medical marijuana?

Anyone who wanted to move to Hayfork and build a home would not have
bought this parcel. Not when there are so many other better
opportunities for lots to build a home. Not when you'd have to remove
over 400 trees and shrubs and bulldoze to create a flat area. Not when
there's a spring that drains onto the lot, and not when you'd be
surrounded by five properties so close, and your dinky parcel is split
by two roads. But for marijuana farming, where you're not living --
hey -- tillable land is tillable land. And every square foot counts.
The neighbors be damned. And the environment be damned. And now that
all the trees are gone, there'll be plenty of sun.

But it's not a sunny day in Hayfork, or in Trinity Pines, where some
couples' lives have been shattered after building their dream homes,
only to be suddenly surrounded by clear-cutting, marijuana-farming
"neighbors" with pit bulls and guns loaded at the hip who have
completely transformed their environment and their lifestyles. They
can't go for walks without being stared at rudely like they're
trespassing, or being chased, harassed or attacked by unfenced guard
dogs. They're afraid to speak out for fear of the worst kind of

Marijuana farming has swept over our county like a tsunami -- on a
huge scale and lightning fast. We weren't prepared for this. Do we
have zoning laws and/or environmental laws whose enforcement could
stem this tide? If not, is there even time to make new laws? Another
growing season is upon us. Where are the stewards of our land? Any
place in our county where marijuana farmers see an opportunity to grow
for profit is subject to radical environmental and social change.
These kinds of farmers don't move here to be part of our communities.
As in the case described here, they buy land unseen. They're only
interested in the growing season, and they have no concern whatsoever
for our communities, our environment, our precious natural resources,
or their new neighbors. All they care about are the immediate,
unrealistically high profits that can be gained only by the sale of an
illegal substance.

I am a member of the generation that popularized the recreational use
of marijuana. And I still believe in the medical uses of marijuana and
"all things in moderation." But nobody back then imagined the impact
we're suffering today. If marijuana for recreational use is legalized
in California and remains illegal for most of the rest of the United
States and the rest of the world, the entire state will be vulnerable
to this unfriendly takeover of our lands, our environments, and our

They will clear cut paradise to start a marijuana farm.

Christine Seronello lives in Hayfork. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake