Additional Actions Taken To Control Marihuana Cultivation and Other Crimes on Federal Lands

RCED-85-18: Published: Nov 28, 1984. Publicly Released: Dec 6, 1984.

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In 1982, GAO reported that illegal and unauthorized activities, including crimes against persons and property and marihuana cultivation, were limiting the ability of the public to use and enjoy natural resources and recreational facilities on federal lands. Pursuant to a congressional request concerning the danger imposed by marihuana growers, GAO updated its previous work focusing on the extent of marihuana cultivation, its effects on the management and use of federal lands, and the actions taken to eradicate marihuana.

GAO found that federal lands are attractive to the growth of marihuana because much of the land is located in unpopulated areas where the climate is more conducive to its cultivation. This cultivation threatens public and employee safety, hinders land management activities on some federal lands, and causes resource damage. Detecting and destroying marihuana is becoming more difficult because of the techniques being used to hamper detection. Booby traps are set up by the growers to scare intruders or to warn growers of their presence in the areas where the plots are located. These devices include bear traps, rattraps, fishhooks on lines at eye level, and even more dangerous items such as hand grenades and dynamite. Federal employees and other land users have reported incidences of phone calls, rock throwing, and of having shots fired at them. Marihuana growers have also been suspected of causing fires, cutting timber and shrubs to clear the land, shooting and poaching wildlife, and littering. Since 1981, the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service have developed marihuana control policies to provide support in cooperating with other federal, state, and local law enforcement areas and have taken further actions to control crimes against persons and property, trespassing, timber thefts, and other illegal and unauthorized activities. The Department of the Interior stated that it has increased efforts to control marihuana cultivation, but that it remains a serious threat to federal employees and the public.

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