As reported Thursday afternoon by colleague Julie Ann Grimm, law enforcement stumbled across a huge marijuana grow in the Bandelier National Monument.
Apparently one of the few unburned places in the beautiful mountainous area spared by the horrendous Las Conchas fire was a patch of fertile ground containing about 5,000 marijuana plants.
It gives another meaning to the high country.
This from Julie Ann’s story:
Law enforcement officials on Thursday began removing 5,000 marijuana plants growing in the backcountry in Bandelier National Monument.
The park superintendent says that this is the first bust of this kind at a national park in the region.
The monument near Los Alamos remains largely closed to the public due to damage from the Las Conchas fire earlier this summer, and it’s because of the fire that authorities discovered the sophisticated growing operation.
Superintendent Jason Lott said park workers spotted the pot field in rugged terrain last week when they flew a helicopter over areas in the northern part of the park that flooded after 3 inches of rain from back-to-back storms.
An interagency task force of about 35 personnel raided the area at 4:30 a.m. Thursday, then began the labor of ripping out the plants that they estimated could have had a street value in the millions of dollars. The illegal site also featured an irrigation system, he said.
And here is her story as posted online Thursday and in print Friday in The New Mexican: