Pubdate: Wed, 24 Feb 2016
Source: Mail Tribune, The (Medford, OR)
Copyright: 2016 The Mail Tribune
Note: Only prints LTEs from within it's circulation area, 200 word count limit
Author: Mark Freeman


Symposium to Educate Pot Growers About Water and Environmental Laws

Marijuana cultivators flocking to Southern Oregon to grow pot know 
pot farms are now legal, but it doesn't mean they know how to farm pot legally.

The Josephine County Soil and Water District is offering a 
crash-course in environmental laws and other aspects of marijuana 
farming to keep growers from running afoul of laws protecting 
streams, fish and wildlife.

More than 100 people have signed up for the one-day seminar Thursday 
at the Josephine County Fairgrounds, where there is room for 1,000 
people who want to bone up on water-quality, water-rights and 
diversion laws, fisheries protection and other rules that regulate 
agriculture, including cannabis cultivation.

"We want to give them some heads-up information to keep them from 
getting in trouble," district Manager Randi Omley-Tatum says. 
"They're not aware of some of these laws, and we know they're not aware."

The symposium comes as environmental regulators look into a rash of 
reports about water-pollution and water-rights violations that could 
be linked to new marijuana operations on private lands.

Many marijuana growers - ranging from out-of-state transplants to 
residents trying their hand at growing plants - need to know what 
they can and can't do to the environment, Omley-Tatum says.

"You'd be surprised how many people think that just because they have 
water running through their property that they can use it," Omley-Tatum says.

The state Department of Environmental Quality is investigating more 
than a half-dozen water-quality complaints in recent weeks involving 
rural creeks suddenly choked with turbidity, soap suds or other 
suspected violations of state and federal water-quality rules.

"It's the soil-disturbing activities combined with rainfall," says 
Bill Meyers, DEQ's Rogue River Basin coordinator. "There's a spike in 
these kinds of land-disturbing events, but for what purpose we don't know."

Meyers says the cases involve lands where no new permits have been 
issued for buildings or new roadways, nor have plans been filed with 
the Oregon Department of Forestry for logging, Meyers says.

However, investigators have so far been unable to establish any 
direct links between the water problems and marijuana growing, Meyers says.

There's also concern that the death of a protected Pacific fisher 
might have been linked to marijuana growing. The fisher, which 
appeared to be sick or injured, was captured Jan. 14 near Pinecrest 
Terrace in Ashland and taken to Wildlife Images Rehabilitation Center 
near Merlin, where it later died, says Steve Niemela, an Oregon 
Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist who captured the fisher.

A necropsy later found the fisher contained rodenticide, possibly 
from ingesting a rodent killed with the poison, according to the 
necropsy report. The report, however, does not say rodenticide 
poisoning killed the fisher.

Rodenticides have been known to be used at illegal marijuana grows in 
the past, but it was unknown where this particular fisher came in 
contact with the rodenticide, Niemela says.



What: Southern Oregon Cannabis Growers Symposium

When and where: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday at the Josephine County 
Fairgrounds off Highway 99 near Grants...
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom