FLAGSTAFF, AZ - Seven years after it was discovered, a former marijuana grow operation in Arizona has been cleaned up and restored to a wilderness area.
Nonprofits Arizona Wilderness Coalition and the Back Country Horsemen of Central Arizona volunteered both manpower and horsepower to get the site near Sedona cleaned up, reported The Arizona Daily Sun (http://bit.ly/2mXFoJM ).
Law enforcement agents found the illegal marijuana grow tucked away from trails and roads in the Red
Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness in 2010. The Forest Service said officers removed the illegal plants and other small items, but left the wooden shack, rolls of fencing and barbed wire, extra concrete, plastic growing trays and a concrete dam.
The Forest Service didn't have the resources to clean the area up and restore it, said Danielle Boulais, wilderness coordinator with the agency's Red Rock Ranger District, so the items remained until 15 volunteers showed up in February.
The volunteers used sledgehammers to break up the concrete dam, sawed rebar and cut up rolls of metal fencing, according to Brian Stultz, wilderness stewardship coordinator for the Arizona Wilderness Coalition.
Workers also picked up nails and pieces of plastic.
All the trash and fencing was hauled out of the canyon by three pack animals brought in by the Back Country Horsemen. Motorized vehicles and equipment are not allowed in the wilderness area.
The volunteers removed a total of 1,500 pounds of concrete and nearly 300 pounds of wire, Stultz said.
Before leaving, the nonprofits dispersed rocks, branches and dead plants to help cover up the dam and the trail volunteers wore through the brush.