Wilderness restored 9 years after marijuana bust

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

COCONINO NATIONAL FOREST, Ariz. -- Nine years after a large, illegal marijuana field was discovered in the Coconino National Forest, 1.5 tons of trash from the operation have been removed.

The U.S. Forest Service, along with other law enforcement agencies, eradicated approximately 20,000 plants in the remote Fossil Springs Wilderness.

It took this long to find the money and resources to remove the trash left from that illegal operation.

The trash included miles of irrigation tubing that was bundled into piles during several previous hiking trips.

On May 7, a group consisting of 19 U.S. Forest Service employees and volunteers hiked into the remote area to prepare the loads of trash to be airlifted out of the foreset. The next day, a helicopter flew the bundles out from the three remote sites in a matter of several hours.

The Fossil Springs Wilderness is one of the more remote, pristine, and rugged Wilderness areas in Arizona, this is likely what made it a target for illegal marijuana production. It has since been restored to its natural condition.