Friday, June 17, 2016
Nevada County Civil Grand Jury reports on 'Environmental Impact of Marijuana Cultivation'
The Nevada County Civil Grand Jury released a report on the environmental impact of marijuana cultivation in Nevada County on Wednesday.
The Grand Jury report was issued to educate the community on the environmental impact of the proliferation of marijuana cultivation in the county in recent years, its said. The report covered environmental concerns such as discharge of contaminants into watersheds, wildfires caused by campfires or bad electrical wiring, and clear-cutting of woodlands and grading that causes erosion. It also addressed health and safety concerns such as thefts and increased fire danger.
California Growers Association and South Yuba River Citizens League representatives said they had reached out to the county with little response, in regards to best practices and monitoring protocols.
The Grand Jury noted that Nevada County has had marijuana cultivation ordinances in place since 2012, with enforcement believed to be the sole responsibility of the Sheriff’s Office.
No interagency tracking is done, the Grand Jury reported, adding there are no written protocols, policies or procedures regarding the referral of code non-compliance issues to the appropriate authority within the county. Code Compliance Division staff indicated they do no enforcement of the cultivation ordinance, and have been given a verbal directive they would not refer any cultivation ordinance violation spotted to the Sheriff’s Office.
According to the report, the Grand Jury “received contradictory information as to the application of ordinances, rules and regulations in Nevada County,” and was “unable to find evidence that any records are being maintained regarding interdepartmental cooperation of marijuana grow referrals.”
“One consistent theme ... was that any and all enforcement ... was the sole responsibility of the Sheriff’s Office.”
The Grand Jury recommended that the Nevada County Board of Supervisors direct the Nevada County Executive Officer, in conjunction with the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, to:
— Empanel an interdepartmental working group to coordinate all information pertaining to environmental dangers and public safety issues caused by marijuana cultivations.
— Develop policies and procedures defining the responsibilities of each department as it pertains to environmental issues surrounding marijuana cultivation.
— Document and track interdepartmental referrals pertaining to marijuana cultivation violations.
— Enforce the legal application of existing land use ordinances.
The Board of Supervisors was to provide a response by Sept. 14.
June 15, 2016
The Union of Grass Valley
By Liz Kellar