Tucked away in a remote canyon, park rangers in Death Valley National Park stumbled across a massive, illegal marijuana grow.
The 40-acre grow was found in Jail Canyon, a rarely visited canyon on the western side of the Panamint Mountains, the National Park Service said in a news release. The area is near the border between California and Nevada.
While California legalized marijuana in 2016, it remains prohibited on federal lands. It’s not known who was cultivating the spot, but a park spokesperson told National Parks Traveler that rangers flew over the area to “photograph the extent and to (hopefully) encourage the growers to abandon the site.”
The illegal grow is one of hundreds that authorities have found in Death Valley over the last decade, officials said, and marijuana grow sites can damage or destroy parts of the national park. Chemicals used in pesticides, clearing of protected lands and diverting water resources can all cause irreparable destruction.
The park service said in a statement that illegal marijuana growers have also been known to threaten hikers who inadvertently came across their crops.
“The natural and cultural resources in these areas are irreplaceable and invaluable, damaging them for profit shows incredible disrespect to our homeland,” Barbara Durham, Traditional Historic Preservation Officer for the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, said in a statement. The Timbisha Shoshone Tribe’s reservation is within the park.
National Parks Traveler reported Jail Canyon is closed while rangers survey the area.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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