BLM warns ranchers about dangerous pot farms on public lands

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By Jay Michaels

MAGIC VALLEY, ID (KMVT) Marijuana growing operations are being discovered on public lands, which is potentially dangerous for some ranchers.

Late last summer police and sheriff's deputies found more than 7,000 marijuana plants at 15 locations in Jerome and Gooding counties. Police said whoever was behind the grow sites took advantage of the farmers' soil, water, and fertilizer. Now ranchers are finding patches of pot growing in remote places on public lands.

Charlie Lyons, President of the Idaho Cattle Association says, "We'll move our cattle up to the higher elevations. Some of these pot growing places start at the higher elevations 'cause the water sources are more permanent. But by the time we get there, the systems are pretty mature."

A Bureau of Land Management ranger says most these marijuana growing operations on american public lands are run by drug traffickers from Mexico, and he says the pot farmers are becoming a lot more aggressive.

Stan Buchanan, ranger from the Boise District BLM says, "Some of these guys, they're peasants from central Mexico. They come up here to tend a garden and they're told one of two things. Either if they give up their garden, their family's gonna die. Or if the American policia arrest you, they're just gonna execute you on the scene."

Buchanan told the ranchers what signs to look for that would identify these illegal marijuana gardens, and told them how to report their finds safely to law enforcement agencies.

Lyons says, "This area, it was new to us. So it kind of added to the list of things a guy needs to be watching for, but I'm sure we'll be able to handle it in some way."

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