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New Alarm Raised on Pot Farms' Threat to Salmon in California, Oregon

Water use, clear-cutting and fertilizer spraying by the marijuana industry threaten coho salmon already at risk of extinction, federal biologists say.

Water use and other actions by the marijuana industry in the Emerald Triangle of Northern California and Southern Oregon are threatening salmon already in danger of extinction, federal biologists said Tuesday. The NOAA Fisheries Service raised the concerns in its final recovery plan for coho salmon in the region. A copy obtained in advance calls for determining then decreasing the amount of water that pot growers illegally withdraw from creeks where young fish struggle to survive.

Pot is legally grown in the region for medical purposes and illegally for the black market. Other threats from the unregulated industry include clear-cutting forests to create pot plantations, building roads that send sediment into salmon streams, and spreading fertilizer and pesticides that poison the water. Coho salmon have been listed as a threatened species in the region since 1997. Like salmon throughout the West, they have suffered from loss of habitat from logging, agriculture, urban development, overfishing and dams. The spotlight on marijuana stemmed from a California state study that estimated pot growers suck millions of gallons of water from salmon streams.



— The Associated Press