Illegal Land Development for Cannabis Cultivation Leads to $325,000 Settlement in Trinity County, California

After being arrested for illegally grading a series of roads and pads for cannabis cultivation in Trinity County, California, four developers have agreed to pay a $325,000 settlement.

Having originated in the Emerald Triangle alongside Trinity County, news of this case hits home especially hard for us here at the Emerald Magazine.  With illegal land development for cannabis cultivation continuing to be a significant issue and threat to the water quality of the north coast, it has become very important to the North Coast Water Board that these violations be put to rest. While the progression of cannabis cultivation is a positive leader in today’s fight for legalization, issues of soil discharges into watersheds, made worse by heavy winter rains that trigger runoff of the disturbed soils, are huge causes of concern.

According to an investigation by the North Coast Water Board, the four defendants in this case acquired the largely undeveloped properties, then graded a series of roads and pads in order to sell them for cannabis cultivation. Conducting this development without the necessary permits, however, made the land much more susceptible to erosion and runoff issues that washed sediment into the nearby Indian Creek watershed.

“We prioritized this case for enforcement because the unpermitted and poorly planned development of the properties cause actual and threatened discharged to Indian Creek, which is a tributary to the sediment-impaired Middle Fork Trinity River,” explained Josh Curtis, assistant executive officer of the North Coast Water Board. “This settlement reflects that the parties acknowledged their illegal conduct,” he continued.

Working to make sure that any and all water-quality threats are addressed, the defendants will be required to follow a Cleanup and Abatement Order as well as the Cannabis Waste Discharge Regulatory Program.

Emerald contributor since June 2019

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