Outdoor lovers watch out for pot plants | ParkRecord.com

Outdoor lovers watch out for pot plants

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

If you come upon marijuana growing in the woods slowly back away from the plants while noting landmarks in the area, the authorities say.

A narcotics agent in Jeremy Ranch warns outdoor lovers that a loaded shotgun was found last year near marijuana growing in Southern Utah.

"In California, Oregon and Washington they’ve had situations where they have rigged up fishhooks at eye level, and they’ve come across armed guards where they were threatened with automatic weapons. If everything is moving to the east, their tactics could be going with them," Drug Enforcement Administration Supervisory Special Agent Mike Root said. "They’re sometimes guarding up to a half-million or a million dollars worth of plants."

Root said this summer could be a banner year for marijuana cultivation in Utah.

"Marijuana growers are dependent on water sources due to Utah’s hot, dry summers," Root said, adding that the snow pack this year was heavy. "Growers will seek out areas where water is abundant, then pipe the water to the grow sites."

Those spending time in the backcountry should watch out for plastic piping, fertilizer bags and trash dumped off main trails.

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Also look out for "those spending time in the backcountry who just don’t fit in," Root said.

"If you see somebody out in the middle of nowhere with no backpack and no water, something just doesn’t seem right," he said. "Some of them are leftover hippies from the 60s. Some are purely financial. They are trying to make money."

Because of "increased pressure on growers from law enforcement in California, Oregon and Washington, growers have slowly been moving east," he said.

A hunter discovered about 1,900 marijuana plants growing in Lambs Canyon west of Summit County last fall.

Cultivation sites are sometimes discovered just off trails that are heavily used and two truckloads of trash were also airlifted from the site in Lambs Canyon, Root said. The person who informed agents of the plants received a cash reward.

People who find plants should contact the DEA at (801) 524-4156.