Introduction

In recent years the cannabis industry has grown exponentially. This agricultural boom, or “Green Rush,” is presenting new threats and challenges to our communities and the natural environment that sustains us. Northern California watersheds have already been damaged by years of boom and bust cycles including logging, ranching, and development. The legacy impacts of these cycles have seriously degraded the integrity and health of the natural environment.

Northern California is a land of ancient redwood groves, annual salmon runs, steep mountain valleys, expansive wilderness, scenic rivers, and is a refuge for many rare and endangered species.

Northern California is also home to rugged and resilient communities and modern homesteads built off-the-grid focusing on recreating a stewardship ethic that has largely been lost over recent centuries. For decades our communities have had an active relationship with cannabis, pioneering growing methods and producing buds that are known around the world.

This guide is meant to complement the unique do-it-yourself culture and spirit which has long been established here on the North Coast of California. This is simply a starting point in the process of identifying and creating viable solutions to the environmental problems our agricultural activities may be exacerbating. Our intention is to address them directly and effectively, on our own farms and within our own communities.

We believe that our proactive efforts will help prevent law enforcement and resource agencies from trying to solve these problems for us.

A fundamental motivation for presenting this “growers guide” to the community is our belief that—even in the midst of the recent “green rush”— most people want to do the right thing. By outlining and describing Best Management Practices it is our hope that we will encourage dialogue, raise awareness, and empower farmers to safeguard the unique environmental qualities of our bioregion because we all care about cool clean water to drink, clean air to breathe, wildlife in abundance, and a safe community to live and grow in. This guide is a celebration of what we have achieved and recognition of a basic fact: we can do better!

We have the opportunity to utilize the prosperity of the current agricultural boom, combined with the knowledge and ability to grow the highest quality cannabis in harmony with our local environment. Thankfully, growing in balance with the natural environment will also produce a better, safer product for consumers, and will ensure a higher quality and more sustainably produced product.

The challenge is to protect our environment while maintaining the prosperity and natural resources we depend on. Things don’t have to be perfect, but we can all make improvements.