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Vancouver Skies

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Police are plucking at green heartstrings with this year's helicopter-aided marijuana eradication operation, which began across Vancouver Island Tuesday.

Illicit backwoods grow-ops damage the environment, said Island District RCMP communications officer Cpl. Greg Cox.

For example, streams are often diverted to the grow-ops to provide for convenient watering, he said. Other plants get trampled by people carving trails in and out of the sites.

"But it's also the chemicals used in the production of these operations," said Cox. "There are growth-enhancing chemicals [and] pesticides being introduced into pristine lands. Then there's the garbage at the post-production sites, the empty or half-used bags of fertilizer, and garbage bags, all that sort of thing, the stuff that's left over after they're done harvesting."

The Western Canadian Wilderness Committee weighed in on the issue, too, with Victoria campaign director Ken Wu pointing out that his organization is always concerned about non-native species such as Scotch broom, holly or purple loosestrife.

"Marijuana is not a native species to Vancouver Island and B.C. forests," Wu said with a laugh.

"Now they're not knocking down whole tracts of forest, like they do in pure agriculture, to grow marijuana. My understanding is when it's grown outdoors it's grown in patches in the forest, in which case you'd eliminate the understory and the native plants and the animals that live on those native plants in those areas," said Wu. "But I'm not sure how much land is really taken up by it."

Cox said that size and location of the grow-ops varies greatly but that some sites are "quite sizeable." In 2004, a police and military task force on marijuana said it found a grow-op near Port Hardy that was about the size of two football fields.

This week, the Integrated Marijuana Eradication Team will move on outdoor grow-ops often located deep in the bush on Crown land, using intelligence collected beforehand.

The squad, which consists of contributions from Saanich and Victoria police departments, Island District RCMP and the Canadian Forces, uses military and police helicopters from Comox. The military contribution helps them get to grow-ops in otherwise inaccessible locations, Cox said.

Last summer, the squad found and destroyed 16,500 plants from over 200 sites.

Cox said he couldn't release too much information about where specifically the team is operating, in order to avoid tipping off the people running the grow-ops. He did, however, point out that the squad's work won't be limited to Vancouver Island and could include some of the Gulf Islands.

The operation will continue as long as is necessary to eradicate all of the grow-ops they know about or come across, said Cox.

News Hawk- User http://www.420Magazine.com
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Matthew Gauk
Contact: Contact canada.com
Copyright: 2007 CanWest Interactive
Website: Police take to Vancouver Island skies to battle marijuana grow-ops
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