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Typically when authorities are complaining about marijuana, it’s a legal issue. But in Santa Cruz County, outdoor marijuana grows are causing problems of a more unexpected kind. As reported in the San Jose Mercury News, the marked rise in outdoor weed grows over the last year is raising concerns of environmental degradation and increased potential for wildfires.
For Cal Fire officials, that rise can be measured in the number of new cases of unlawful timber operations. Where 2010 only saw approximately three new cases, last year that number spiked to 22 new incidents.
"They're creating a huge fire hazard in leaving those there," said Cal Fire Division Chief Rich Sampson in the Mercury News of the felled trees left behind. "Often, they're camping there. So the chance of fire is greatly increased."