The Green Rush took a toll on the Eel River’s health
Cannabis farms have been polluting the Eel River since the Green Rush began. There is sediment eroding and fertilizer running off into the river and the attached streams. Water is also being siphoned off from the streams and river to use on large grow operations.
There are some sections of the Eel River that are at high, medium, and low risk of being polluted by illegal cannabis farms. This map lays out sections that are at those different levels of risk. All of the grows shown are within three miles of the Eel river.
The sediment that is eroding due to the grow operations building roads that they do not maintain. They are also clear cutting a lot of the redwoods which held the sediment in place. This sediment falling into and settling in the river is causing it to flatten out and become shallow.
This takes away the salmon’s favored habitat of deep, cold water. The fertilizer is causing algae bloom to occur that is very toxic for the salmon. It causes them to become diseased and die off. The grows are also siphoning off too much water, to the point of the river running dry in some seasons. This makes it hard for salmon to migrate from the ocean, up the Eel River, and to the streams where they lay their eggs.
Cannabis becoming legal will allow the government to regulate the fertilizer used, maintain roads and minimize the impact of clear cutting, and regulate the amount of water being siphoned out. These regulations will keep the Eel River beautiful and protected.
i think it’s important to note that these types of operations you are describing are typically done by illegal cannabis grows. There are many licensed and compliant cannabis farms that do not damage their environment in this way, and some, even enhance it.