Forest clearing due to cultivation
Illegal water diversion
The environmental impacts associated with cannabis cultivation and the legal or illegal diversion of water can have severely detrimental effects on fish and wildlife and their habitat, capable of lasting for several years after remediation. Managing and protecting these diverse resources, held in public trust by the State for the benefit of all California’s citizens, is part of CDFW's core values. As such, CDFW is part of a multi-agency approach for regulating environmental impacts and enforcing against crimes and civil violations associated with cannabis cultivation. CDFW’s Watershed Enforcement Program is directed to permit, enforce, educate, and coordinate with other agencies to prevent, assess, and remediate environmental damages and investigate violations of illegal streambed alterations associated with cannabis cultivation.
Land-use practices, such as the removal of permanent cover like upland forests to make room for cannabis cultivation, can be the source of wide-ranging impacts on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. These impacts include loss and fragmentation of sensitive habitat due to road construction, grading and burying of streams, increased sediment delivery, mass wasting, and erosion. The agricultural practices of cannabis cultivation can result in terrestrial wildlife mortality from use of prohibited rodenticides; chemical and sediment pollution from the use of petroleum-based products, pesticides, and fertilizers; and reduced instream flow needs (or complete dewatering of streams) for spawning, migration, and rearing of salmonids.
Reduced or altered stream flow regimes can be a significant threat to aquatic species, particularly because the timing of water demands for cultivation can dampen spring base flows and accelerate the recession of critical summer flows as water demand increases for the agricultural growing season. This reduction in flows diminishes the amount of suitable habitat available for sensitive species like salmonid fishes that are dependent on high-quality cold water, or desiccation-intolerant amphibians such as the southern torrent salamander (Rhyacotriton variegatus) and coastal tailed frog (Ascaphus truei). Reduced stream flow can also lead to decreases in food supply, production, dissolved oxygen, and habitat complexity that provides shelter for foraging or cool water refugia. It can cause increases in water temperature, transmission of disease, physiological stress, turbidity and suspended sediment, algal blooms, and predation due to intra- and interspecific competition. In the case of juvenile salmonids, reduced flow has been found to cause changes in behavioral tactics that have biological consequences, such as aggression, sheltering, drift foraging, roaming, and rock picking. Complete dewatering of stream reaches can result in stranding of fishes and mortality.
Mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana sierra)
Northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina)
Pacific fisher (Pekania pennanti)
Steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
Townsend's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsend)
California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense)
CDFW prioritizes investigation and inspection activities and works collaboratively with the State Water Board, local law enforcement, government officials, and the public to ensure enforcement efforts have maximum benefit for fish and wildlife. Violations associated with cannabis cultivation sites include, but are not limited to, the following Fish and Game Code Sections:
||Short Description of Law
||Penalty – Violator Owns/Leases Land [§12025(b)]
|F&G § 1602
||Obstruct flow, change, or use material from stream; substantial diversion water
|F&G § 5650
||Water pollution - state waters
|F&G § 5652
||Littering near a stream
|F&G § 2000
||Unlawful take of bird, mammal, fish, reptile, or amphibian
|F&G § 2002
||Unlawful possession of bird, mammal, fish,
reptile, or amphibian
For non-trespass grows, each day a violation “occurs or continues to occur” shall constitute a separate violation.(F&G §12025(b)(2))
CDFW may refer violators to the district attorney or Attorney General for criminal or civil action. Additionally, CDFW has the authority to administratively impose civil penalties on those found to have violated Fish and Game Code Sections 1602, 5650 and/or 5652 in connection with the production or cultivation of a controlled substance (i.e., cannabis) on public or private lands.
Health and Safety Code 11358
Every person who plants, cultivates, harvests, dries or processes more than 6 living plants in violation of Fish and Game Code Section 5650, 5652, 1602, 2000, 2080, or 3513, or causes substantial environmental damage - may be imprisoned pursuant to Penal Code Section 1170.
To Report a Polluter or Poaching
If you witness a polluting or poaching incident or any fish and wildlife violation, or have information about such a violation, immediately dial the toll-free CalTIP number 1-888-334-CALTIP (888-334-2258), 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you witness a poaching or polluting incident or any fish and wildlife violation, or have information about such a violation, immediately dial the toll-free CalTIP number 1-888-334-CALTIP (888-334-2258), 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Or you may submit anonymous tips to CDFW using tip411. tip411 an internet based tool from CitizenObserver.com that enables the public to text message an anonymous tip to wildlife officers and lets the officers respond back creating an anonymous two-way conversation. Anyone with a cell phone may send an anonymous tip to CDFW by texting "CALTIP", followed by a space and the message, to 847411 (tip411).
Or download the free CALTIP smartphone App which operates similarly to tip411 by creating an anonymous two-way conversation with wildlife officers to report wildlife and pollution violations. The CALTIP App can be downloaded for free via the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.