The U.S. Forest Service uprooted a cannabis garden numbering 2,630 mature marijuana plants from the White River National Forest near Colorado’s Ruedi Reservoir on Wednesday, the Aspen Times reports. With an approximate yield of one pound of marijuana per plant, and an average value of $2,500 per pound, the estimated value of the raid comes to more than $6 million.
This is the second discovery in a year of a major illegal marijuana-growing operation on national forest lands in the Aspen area. In September 2013, the Forest Service reportedly raided another large garden in the White River National Forest, containing 3,375 marijuana plants, with an estimated value of $8.4 million.
Scott Fitzwilliams, forest supervisor for the White River National Forest, told the Aspen Times that Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana use had not slowed clandestine marijuana farming on public lands. “The demand is so high now that we expect there will be more,” Fitzwilliams said. “The legal operators can’t keep up with demand.”
Hunters discovered the White River garden after smelling the plants, Fitzwilliams explained. Assisted by the Drug Enforcement Administration on Wednesday, about a dozen Forest Service workers yanked the plants out by hand and loaded them into the agency’s dump truck, with plans to mix them with slurry to make them unusable and then bury them in a nearby landfill.