California cannabis growers may be making millions, but their thirsty plants are sucking up a priceless resource: water. Now scientists say that if no action is taken in the drought-wracked state, the consequences for fisheries and wildlife will be dire.
“If this activity continues on the trajectory it’s on, we’re looking at potentially streams going dry, streams that harbor endangered fish species like salmon, steelhead,” said Scott Bauer of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Studying aerial photographs of four watersheds within Northern California’s so-called Emerald Triangle, Bauer found that the area under marijuana cultivation doubled between 2009 and 2012. It continues to grow, with increasing environmental consequences.