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Pot Farms Damaging County Land

081124-ekj-pottrash.jpg

The Drug Enforcement Administration says so far this year it has found nearly 200 outdoor illegal marijuana growing operations in San Diego County. And the DEA says those growing sites cause environme

Pot Farms Damaging County Land

(Photo: Chain saw, containters and other trash / Courtesy DEA)

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The Drug Enforcement Administration says so far this year it has found nearly 200 outdoor illegal marijuana growing operations in San Diego County. And the DEA says those growing sites cause environmental damage to public lands in the county. KPBS Environmental Reporter Ed Joyce has details.

The DEA says it has seized nearly 290,000 marijuana plants from outdoor growing operations on public and private land.

DEA Agent William Sherman says because there's so much rural land in the county, San Diego is a mecca for outdoor and indoor growers.

He says those operations damage public lands when growers clear away native vegetation to plant.

But Sherman says even more damaging is the toxic fertilizers used to grow marijuana.

Sherman:
Fertilizer you can't purchase commercially here, they have triple X symbols and skulls and stuff on it, cause they've been brought across the border from Mexico. You can't even use those for commercial use here,  they're that damaging to the environment.

Officials say restoring the land costs about $11,000 an acre.

Sherman says that's another cost to taxpayers when those pot farms are on federal property.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.