Aug 21, 2012 6:07 PM by Greg Boyce
The U.S. Forest Service confirmed this afternoon an illegal marijuana growing operation was found in the Waldo Canyon burn area while the fire was still raging.
Forest Service spokesman Steve Segin told News 5 the illegal crop was spotted by a helicopter pilot who was involved in the fire fighting efforts. Upon investigation they found a 22-acre grow site on forest service land. They found about 7,500 marijuana plants, many of them burned by the fire.
Value of the whole crop was estimated conservatively at $15-million.
Segin said the site was about a mile off of Rampart Range Road in the Sand Gulch area. He said it had been in operation for more than one season.
The plants were pulled up and transported to another location and then burned.
No arrests were made.
Since 2009, 16 illegal marijuana growing operations have been shut down on public land in Colorado. The pot fields found near San Isabel last week in Pueblo County were on private property.