By TRACIE CONE, Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — With parts of Northern California's scenic hillsides illegally gouged by bulldozers for marijuana grows, frustrated local officials asked the state for help to protect streams and rivers from harmful sediment and the chemicals used on the pot plants.
They hoped to charge growers under federal and state clean water regulations with tougher penalties than the infractions local officials could impose. But they were rebuffed.
The state agency in charge of protecting the region's water said it was too dangerous.
As in many rural counties in California, marijuana farms are becoming more and more plentiful. They proliferate in the high Sierra, where armed Mexican cartel operatives clear wilderness areas, divert creeks and poison wildlife. Butte County Supervisor Chairman Bill Connelly has accused state officials of not applying water laws equally.