Over the last three years, the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF), in cooperation with interagency enforcement agencies, has eradicated numerous marijuana grows that were cultivated by large drug trafficking organizations. These grow sites were located on the Nicolet land base (2010/2012) and the Chequamegon land base (2011); all were first reported by hunters and anglers.
The illegal activity of growing and harvesting marijuana on public lands is expected to continue. The safety of the public and employees is the top priority for the U.S Forest Service. The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and other public lands are being used for these illegal operations as they are often vast, uninhabited acres the growers find have the right conditions for their illegal operations.
Typically, planting occurs in the spring and the plants are harvested in late summer. Even with the late snow melt in much of northern Wisconsin, activity may already be occurring with these illegal grows.
The CNNF asks that visitors be aware of their surroundings and know what to do to remain safe. Although encountering a site is unlikely, knowing how to recognize one is vital.
Indicators of illegal marijuana grow sites include:
• isolated tents in the forest where no other recreational activity is present;
• garden tools, bags of fertilizer and large amounts of garbage;
• signs of cultivation/soil disturbances (many holes) in unlikely areas; and
• one- to two-acre (or smaller) cleared areas with stumps up to approximately three feet tall.
If a site is identified, it is suggested that the following actions be taken immediately:
• leave the area as quickly and quietly as possible;
• try to identify the surrounding location by use of landmarks or waypoints; and
• notify local law enforcement authorities; if the site is in the National Forest, the local ranger district office may be contacted
Authorities will continue to work together to decrease this unlawful and damaging activity. The public’s assistance is important to help stop marijuana growing in the CNNF.