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Burns Bog used for Grow-ops

By Hempology | June 8, 2006

bogskyline.gif The possibility of a highway interchange or private development eating into the fringes of Burns Bog isn’t the only environmental threat to the unique wetlands.

In fact, it took just five minutes of easy bushwhacking just off Highway 91 Tuesday afternoon to find evidence of a number of marijuana grow-ops.

Biologist and filmmaker Don DeMille, who has been fighting for the preservation and restoration of the bog for years, led a group into the property this week to demonstrate the damage done by people using the soft peat as a convenient growing medium.

Pot growers use the bog because marijuana plants need plenty of sun, he said, and the wide-open spaces inside the bog are accessible but rarely see human traffic.

On a walk over the spongy moss-covered ground, DeMille spotted several Rubbermaid tubs full of young plants, two mature plants in the ground and evidence of another small grow-op that had recently been cleared by police.

He said the rich potting soil used by growers is actually bad for the sensitive ecosystem.

“Good soil in a bog is a bit deadly,” explained DeMille, “because it encourages non-native plants to grow. If this continues it will have a very significant impact on the bog.”

DeMille said he’s come across literally thousands of pot plants over the years. He contends, in fact, that a major fire which wiped out a big portion of Burns Bog last September was likely started by pot growers.

“Burns Bog was saved from private hands, but it also needs to be protected from the public.

“Look at the richness and beauty of this,” said DeMille. “In my mind, it’s unthinkable that we should destroy it.”

He said the solution is to buy up the last remaining parcels in private hands.

“If ( this part of ) Burns Bog was in public hands, it could be monitored by park wardens,” said Delta North MLA Guy Gentner, who was on the tour Tuesday.

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