Letter to the North Coast Journal 03-23-17

Commenting on Cannabis

Editor:

You overlooked a vitally important topic in your Cannabis Issue (March 16). It also goes missing from marijuana regulations and discussions of “best practices.” That topic is location.

When the first step in establishing a marijuana grow is to chop down a swath of forest, or bulldoze a meadow or mountainside, you are degrading and fragmenting habitat and harming wildlife, no matter what your subsequent practices are or whether you receive a permit. There is no mitigation for fragmentation.

This is the most environmentally destructive aspect of the “green rush.” Every photo of these grows, whether permitted or black market, shows the ring of forest they were carved out of. The photos you published of the Mad River area in 2014 and 2016 are horrifying. To pretend that the thousands of new grow sites and roads aren’t inherently damaging to habitat and wildlife is delusional.

Humboldt’s forested mountains are an ecologically inappropriate location for a major agricultural industry. The expressed urgency to bring these grows “into compliance” is inadequate. At Habitat Forever, we want the industry gone. It is time to move the industry out of habitat. Then we can get on to the important work of cleaning up and letting these grows return to contiguous native habitat.

We need to remember that we are in the midst of the largest extinction event since the Cretaceous extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs, with habitat loss the leading cause of extinctions. Forty percent of the Earth’s land mass has already been converted to agriculture. Under these circumstances, developing and degrading Humboldt’s habitat is inexcusable. Marijuana can be grown almost anywhere. There is nothing special about Humboldt, for growing marijuana, except for the political climate. It’s time to protect Humboldt’s habitat. To learn more, go to www.habitatforever.wordpress.com.

Amy Gustin, Ettersburg