Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Letter to Chico Liberals and Environmentalists: Yes on A; No on B.

Last month, the Butte County Central Committee of the Democratic Party voted to endorse a "No" vote on Measure A (which restricts the size of marijuana gardens to a very small scale) and a "Yes" vote on Measure B (which creates a commercial industry for cannabis). I was told by a person who attended the vote that it was the urban Chico contingent that pushed the party to make the endorsement. Rural Democrats on the Central Committee were against this endorsement.
It is the politically correct position these days to be “Pro” anything having to do with Cannabis. We rightly see legalization and decriminalization as a way to end the war on drugs that has led to so many people getting rap sheets, and not treatment, when it comes to the abuse of drugs. Yes, I agree. The war on drugs must end.  

But as a person who has been both a life-long Lefty and an Environmentalist who lives in rural Butte County, I do not see how endorsing Measure B protects rural Butte County from the ravages of greed. Let me explain.

In the past few years a new industry has sprung up in one of the most environmentally sensitive eco-systems we have left in California. The late environmental writer, Philip Fradkin, estimated that 75% of the wildlife in California lives within the environmental sweet spot between 1,000 and 4,000 feet in elevation. The great valleys of California have mostly been taken over by agriculture. Wildlife has been extirpated to what little habitat they have left.

The Foothills is what they have left. We should be very careful about letting any large scale commercial enterprise develop in that zone. Up until the cannabis boom, settlement in the rural Foothills was limited for a number of reasons: zoning, commute distances and the difficulty of the terrain. What little settlement there was in the far rural areas was limited to recreational cabins and a few “Mountain People”.
That has changed. Suddenly, just like the Gold Rush, the Green Rush made it economically viable to live in the Foothills. The fuzzy legal status of the Cannabis Industry has pushed it into the nether, unpopulated regions. Out of the way and mostly out of sight of Chicoans. In Butte County, the number of grows burst overnight to around 5,000 gardens. More are created every year. And these aren’t the Cartel Grows--- these are the Grows that are encouraged by a much too generous Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance such as Measure B.

So what has the impact been? Untrammeled growth in a sensitive environment. New roads going in. Water being diverted from streams. Wildlife are shot on sight by paranoid gardeners who want to protect their million dollar grows. Pit bulls and wolves are being reintroduced to the area, killing critters and menacing any recreational hiker. It has become a dangerous place to live, not because of the mountain lion or rattlesnake, but because of the need to protect grows (that can be worth up to a million dollars) with guns and aggressive canine.

From talking to the Fish and Wildlife employees in the area, the number of deer are plummeting, just like they have been plummeting in the marijuana rich counties of Mendocino, Lake and Humboldt. Population pressure and poaching are taking their toll.
We are mismanaging the Foothills and injecting a large commercial industry into an environmentally sensitive zone that should be left to the raccoon, squirrels, ring tailed cats, bear, deer, mountain lion, badger, marten, fisher, rattlesnake, wild turkey, quail, trout, salmon.

A vote for Measure B ensures that we will have less wildlife. Less wild space. More pit bulls and guns and mismanagement of rural areas. I know. I live there. I’ve witnessed the growth and the loss of habitat.

And so, dear Chico liberals and Environmentalists, please vote to limit the size of gardens. Vote Yes on Measure A. There are limits to growth. Let’s vote to limit our impact by maxing out the size of the gardens. We don’t need another commercial industry in the Foothills.


  1. To ignore this issue is to be complicit.

  2. So you suggest we vote to take away people's rights (voted for multiple times both locally and statewide) because of your anecdotal evidence of.. well what exactly? You loosely reference some sort of environmental degradation; everything else you list just seems to have no basis at all. Should you be "recreationally hiking" on other peoples private property regardless of its use? Additionally you may be confusing causal and correlational in regards to deer populations which may be affected by drought rather than human interference. Not to mention the "increase in wolves?"
    Measure B does limit gardens, while measure A all but eliminates them. If the county would actually enforce the current ordinance you may find anything further is not only unnecessary but excessive. Work with the people to make a working solution, it's the only reasonable way.

    1. When I talk about hiking, I'm talking about walking on ether public land or the roads around here. As for the wolves? Some of these growers think it is cool to have a wolf or a wolf mix dog. These wolves are responsible for livestock killings and are very, very difficult to domesticate. One small toddler near here was chewed up when she toddled into range of a wolf tied up to a chain. The kid lived, but spent considerable amount of time in the hospital.

  3. So what do you want? A four year study on the damage of growing cannabis in the Foothills? I think the thousands of wells drilled and the illegal roads that have been put in are more than enough evidence to call for a moratorium on the commercial production of cannabis in the Foothills. Measure B is the same rules we have now: the same rules that are causing the problems. What is unreasonable is to have the current rules where Cannabis has special status. Treat it like alcohol where anybody can make a small bit of hooch for self and friends but if you want to sell it commercially, require a license to produce the stuff. That way we can control where to grow it in the best, least damaging, environment. Growing it in the Foothills where the water is stolen and the dirt is shipped in from the valley makes no sense. It's exploitation.

  4. By the way, due to a couple of threatening comments, I have decided to require an ID to comment on this blog. Having Anonymous posts leads to the Internet version of a drive by shooting. No accountability and the loss of civility.

  5. Does it really have anything to do with pot or is it about the right to live in peace in your home and neighborhood? Let's take any group of people that come into your quiet, peaceful neighborhood and disrupt it--let's say they install a hog farm, a big bright sign, a bar that pipes the inside music over a speaker outside, a fire station in which the scanner radio transmits loudly outside the fire station into the nearby neighborhood...These are all actual cases, all from friends of mine who fought one of these in their formerly peaceful neighborhoods (and won). I could go on. There is no mystery here. We have the right to live our lives IN PEACE in our homes and neighborhoods and we should not be put in a place of having to DEFEND this right which is what the "pot problem" does to us. We just want to keep on living our lives and minding our own business. The growers came into our little part of the foothills here and we ran them out and we will again. Hell, some of the people that ran them out smoke weed. It didn't have anything to do with the weed as much as exactly what Allan says here--the damage to our community, meaning ours and the WILDLIFE community, pollution of our water from their pesticides, the noise and cars in and out as they were selling from their homes and trailers--Are the pot advocates just clueless that ANYONE would have issues with these behaviors?
    Are they a little too self-righteous and arrogant? Are they too narcissistic to care about what they do to our environment/neighborhoods? Are the commercial farms going to be any better on this front or just invite more craziness and crime? Maybe it's not the pot--it's the PEOPLE that are advocating for the pot. We were blown away by the way they showed up here, completely disregarding those of us who call this place HOME. "Just who in the hell do you think you are?" --my neighbor asked one of them on his "farm."

    Remember something else too, please. Unlike other states, CA has had to deal with the pot growing for decades and for awhile, the quiet industry that was pot worked.
    Now you're in our face all the time, our wild spaces, trying to pass this and that ordinance--the county chambers filled up for a public hearing--NOT for a new park or improved streets or anything that would benefit the COMMUNITY--but for your POT issue. Maybe we are just sick of your narcissism around this.

    We have Measure S on the ballot here in Nevada County which greatly relaxes current pot laws. I can tell you right now, many of us are VOTING NO on it. NO! NO! NO! And we will continue to vote NO.

    Go up to Washington, head to Colorado. It's their turn because maybe when it comes to pot in Northern California, we are just BURNED OUT.

  6. Excellent Commentary. I hope you will consider submitting this to the Chico ER as a Letter to the Editor.

  7. I am far from liberal, and likely we wouldn't agree on many issues, but I have to applaud your comments here and for looking at this from a different perspective, the destruction of the 'foothill zone' as recognized by naturalists Vinson Brown and others. I appreciate your comments and the thoughtfulness behind them. I too have watched many areas where I hiked freely and marveled at the foothill/oak/pine ecosystems in the 60's and 70's that went on for miles now broken up, gone, or inaccessible, and in a large part due to out of State growers eager to cash out big and fast, 'medicinal marijuana' playing no part in it except as a cover.