Federal park rangers happened to spot a not-so-native plant growing illegally in a national park.
A 40-acre stretch of marijuana is in Death Valley National Park right on the border of California and Nevada. It was in a western portion of the park, Jail Canyon, which rarely gets a lot of foot traffic.
Death Valley National Park Marijuana Grow
The massive canyon was also helping to shield the marijuana grow from the public eye. This canyon remains closed while the park rangers work to investigate the area.
According to KTLA 5, it’s not a new occurrence to find an illegal marijuana grow in Death Valley. There have been hundreds spotted in the past decades. While on the surface it may seem harmless, marijuana grows can be deadly to the national park in an environmental sense.
Also, certain chemicals, clearing protected land, and diverting water resources can be detrimental to the national park.
“The natural and cultural resources in these areas are irreplaceable and invaluable, damaging them for profit shows incredible disrespect to our homeland,” Barbara Durham, Traditional Historic Preservation Officer for the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, said according to the publication.
These grow sites can damage parts of the national park. As an invasive species of plant, marijuana could do harm if planted near other native plants. Marijuana is legal in California. It is not, however, on any kind of federal land. The Death Valley National Park is a go-to spot for marijuana grows because it is extremely hot and dry. The cannabis plant thrives best in places like California, Oregon, and parts of Washington because it best mimics a Mediterranean climate.
According to SFGATE, rangers flew over the land to photograph the extent of space the marijuana grow occupies. The park service has also said that those growing the marijuana are sometimes known to threaten any hikers who accidentally stumble upon the area.
Death Valley Campers
Earlier this month, Death Valley National Park was in the news after an unfortunate tragedy.
According to ABC News, an Arizona tourist died, but his girlfriend was rescued after the two went missing while traveling in Death Valley National Park in California. Officials rescued the woman, Emily Henkel, off a ledge near Willow Creek. Sadly, her boyfriend, Alexander Lofgren, died before officials could rescue the pair.
Originally, the two campers were driving in their Subaru. While driving the car, two of the tires went out. The couple was on their way on foot. They left a note on the car that said, “Two flat tires, headed to Mormon Point, have three days’ worth of water.”
The couple was spotted from the air but were in a difficult spot to recover in Inyo County. It is unclear how the boyfriend died and it is currently under investigation.
Death Valley often holds true to its name. It is one of the hottest and driest places in the entire world and certain hazardous conditions frequently cost people their lives. In August 2020, Death Valley reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit. It is potentially the highest temperature in a century. According to Forbes, climate scientists and activists are connecting this to climate change and global warming.