Pot farms spring up in Los Angeles hills

Sept. 30, 2010 at 5:47 PM

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- The mountains around Los Angeles have become a favorite location for illicit marijuana farms, and police say they've found more and more illegal operations.

In the last year, park rangers and Los Angeles and Ventura County sheriff's deputies have confiscated about 42,000 marijuana plants worth $130 million in areas of the Santa Monica Mountains, the Los Angeles Times reported.

That's almost three times the amount confiscated last year, the first year of an aggressive campaign by park rangers, the U.S. Forest Service and the Sheriff's Departments to eradicate the marijuana plantations, the newspaper said.

"Our whole goal is to make this [pot farming] economically unviable," Walt Young, chief ranger for the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, said.

The farms damage the environment and present a public-safety threat because of fires and possible harm to park visitors who unwittingly stumble on them, authorities said.

The installations can damage natural soil and vegetation and disturb wildlife in remote areas home to species such as bobcats and mountain lions, Young said.

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