Vast tracts of our most treasured public lands, supposedly set aside in perpetuity for Americans, are no longer controlled by the United States government. Instead, they have been invaded and taken over by Mexico's violent criminal drug organizations to grow marijuana.
Even more shocking: Mexican cartels have been growing marijuana for at least 10 years in Sequoia National Park, one of the crown jewels of the system. Nature-loving hikers are compelled to accept that parts of Sequoia are "no go zones" during the growing season.
These Mexican marijuana messes are an ecological disaster. They are not innocent little plots that leave a minimal footprint. They are industrial grow sites, toxic stews where the gangsters use dangerous and illegal chemical herbicides, pesticides and growth hormones that result in long-lasting environmental damage.
National parks are supposed to be protected at the highest standard, preserving them for future generations in a pristine, unspoiled state. But he Mexican infestation has corrupted that idea to its core.
Drug czar John Walters testified to Congress in March that
"10 acres of forest are damaged for every acre planted with marijuana, with an estimated cost of $11,000 per acre to repair and restore land that has been contaminated with the toxic chemicals, fertilizers, irrigation tubing, and pipes associated with marijuana cultivation."
The Mexican gangsters (who are often illegal aliens) routinely cut down trees, divert streams with systems of PVC pipe and poach wildlife for food. Their operations are big business: In 2007, more than 20,000 plants were found in Yosemite National Park and 43,000 plants in Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park. The eradication operations cost the government millions of dollars, but today there is no money for the clean-up, so funds are either diverted from other projects or volunteers help out. Sadly, with budgets slim, park protection and maintenance do not rank high on Washington's priorities. The problem gets worse every year.
In an eradication photo-op in mid-October, John Walters remarked, "Some of these groups not only engage in crime and violence not only in Mexico and along the border, but they come across and kidnap, murder and carry out assassinations... These groups do not respect the border." [US official: Mexican cartels murder, kidnap in US, Associated Press, October 19, 2008]
Walters spoke in Sequoia Park, where plots were first discovered in 1998. Since it's tougher to smuggle pot post-9/11 because of increased border security and they can save money by eliminating transportation costs, the dealers grow pot stateside. The national forests have also been badly affected (see 2006 map).
In addition to the pollution, there is the danger to hikers of wandering into a booby-trapped pot grove guarded by Mexican thugs with full-auto weapons. Several law enforcement officers have been injured in altercations with growers. No hiker has been killed—yet.
This park destruction is reported every year, along with other harvest news. Camo-clad officers swoop down from military helicopters into hidden pot fields, arrest the caretakers and uproot the plants. Every summer-to-fall season brings the same predictable stories in the press:
And so it goes, in depressingly predictable fashion. The MainStream Media has actually done a decent job in shining a spotlight on the problem. But Washington has not reacted.
Citizens who know about the extent of the destruction (e.g. VDARE.com readers) ask: where the environmentalists are in organizing opposition to this fundamental affront to the conservation movement.
Unfortunately, the environmentalists who should be defending the parks don't care that our natural heritage icons have been invaded and despoiled.
The flagship green organization, the Sierra Club, has said that it has "other priorities." [War of the Weed, By Joe Robinson, LA Times, August 9, 2005]
The Sierra Club was once a stalwart non-partisan defender of the planet and enemy of pollution. The organization's Mission Statement is a fine encapsulation of environmentalist values:
enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth;
To practice and promote the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources;
To educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives."
Would that the Sierra Club still lived up to its noble—and practical—purpose.
Interestingly, an October 9 article in the Santa Barbara Independent nailed the current nature of the Sierra Club by characterizing it as "a left-leaning organization that focuses on environment and nature conservation issues."[Sierra Club, PUEBLO Announce Endorsements, By Jenny Pedersen and Shannon Switzer] That description is perhaps more polite than calling Clubbers "socialists in hiking boots" but the point is identical: leftism is the primary concern, the environment secondary.
In order to build a bigger left wing (with help from puppetmaster moneybags George Soros), the Sierra Club has moved in recent years to partnership with Open-Borders extremists. Speaking out against Mexican criminals poisoning our protected lands doesn't fit with the organization's current politics.
As an example of the group's new priorities, the Sierra Club has been deeply engaged in fighting against the US-Mexico border fence, despite the tons of trash left every year by illegal crossers. Obviously, the environmentally appropriate position would be pro-fence. But the leading organization of the environmental movement has gone over to the dark side.
The Sierra Club cashed in its conservationist integrity when it secretly accepted a donation of over $100 million on the condition that the organization not mention massive immigration/population growth as being environmentally harmful. The donor, Wall Street investor David Gelbaum, stated, "I did tell [Executive Director] Carl Pope in 1994 or 1995 that if they ever came out anti-immigration, they would never get a dollar from me." [The Man behind the Land, By Kenneth R. Weiss, Los Angeles Times, October 27, 2004]
As a result of environmentalists' corruption, no powerful voice prods Congress to stop Mexican crime syndicates taking over parklands. In particular, poison-drenched marijuana plots shouldn't be allowed to grow to nearly harvest stage, when toxics and trash have reached maximum accumulation. Early intervention is required to prevent the Mexicans' pollution, and that mean more surveillance, particularly using helicopters. But those measures mean more money and personnel. The political will has not been there in Washington.
What's absent was well described by Chief Ranger Steve Shackelton of Yosemite Park.
"For years we've been seeing these people make millions of dollars in profit, while they devastate the environment on private property and California's majestic public lands. They destroy habitat, pollute streams with poisons and nitrogen fertilizers, kill wildlife, and pose a fire threat. The only thing missing is public outrage," concluded Shackelton. [Marijuana Gardens Raided in Yosemite National Park, NPS Park News, August 14, 2007]
Western writer Wallace Stegner said: "National parks are the best idea we ever had." It is shameful that so little is being done today to preserve them—and how we citizens sleepwalk through the loss of national treasures to the vilest sort of exploitation by foreign criminals.
Mexican criminals target the parks because they are open places with a premium on freedom. Like America itself, they were designed for use by a responsible, law-abiding population. When gangs of ruthless drug dealers invade, it is a case of wolves amidst sheep.
If the parks are to be saved from destruction by foreigners, far more policing will be needed. That might alter the basic nature of the parks, but it may be too late in the day to worry about that. America's borders have been open for too many years.
As things are, probably it will take the death of an innocent hiker to convince Washington to do what's necessary—and to do it soon.
Brenda Walker (email her) lives in Northern California and publishes two websites, LimitsToGrowth.org and ImmigrationsHumanCost.org. She is furious that Mexican cartel creeps have invaded her favorite local hiking spot, Point Reyes National Seashore.