Large marijuana grow raided in mountains outside Ellensburg

Large marijuana grow raided in mountains outside Ellensburg
A tent, chemicals, fertilizer and 660 pounds of trash were found at the grow site.
ELLENSBURG, Wash. - Sheriff's deputies raided a large marijuana-growing operation in a remote mountain canyon Tuesday morning in Kittitas County, officials said.

Some 4,450 plants with a street value of more than $2 million were found and eradicated, said Kittitas County Undersheriff Clayton Myers. The marijuana was believed to be slated for sale through an illegal drug trafficking organization.

The illegal pot grow was reported by an Ellensburg couple who came upon the plants while hiking up a remote canyon near Manastash Ridge.

In addition to the plants, deputies removed a sawed-off shotgun, 660 pounds of trash, chemicals, irrigation lines, camp equipment, tools and food from the site.

"One of the under-reported impacts of these operations is the negative impacts on the environment," Myers said. "Green trees are cut down, natural vegetation is removed and the ground is terraced, which results in extensive erosion after the grow is abandoned."

He said a stream in the area was dug out and re-routed for irrigation, and chemicals and fertilizers were dumped directly into the streams and springs.

"Though Washington has legalized the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana, law enforcement is obligated to act against these operations, as they violate both federal and state law, posing physical and environmental dangers to our community," Myers added.