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Spring/Summer 2000 Issue

Herbicide Spray Alert
CHP Accountability and Roadside Searches
Medical Marijuana News
New Lead Deputy for Humboldt County DEU
Warrantless Searches
Asset Forfeiture
Greensweep Lawsuit Update
Newsbites and Updates

Greensweep Lawsuit Update
...by Bernadette Webster

The California Bureau of Land Management (CA BLM) has issued the final draft of a document entitled "Mandatory Guidelines for Marijuana Operations by Bureau of Land Management Law Enforcement in Northern California." The piece was a condition of the settlement of the Greensweep Lawsuit. The entire writing of it was at their discretion although there was a draft version which the public was allowed to comment on.

Essentially, CA BLM has determined that they will be obliged by the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) to create written considerations of the effects of their marijuana eradication operations only when they are the lead agency of or take an active role in the planning of any such operations. Environmental documents are to be drafted before a campaign is instigated. If the action is deemed major, an Environmental Impact Statement is to be prepared. To avoid having to do this, BLM has created a definition for a major operation as something much larger than Operation Greensweep ever was.

Helicopter flights are to avoid human as well as threatened and endangered species' domiciles, although they will only be required to maintain altitudes established by the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR 91,119 (d) establishes that "Helicopters may be operated at less than the minimums established... if the operation is conducted without hazard to persons and property on the ground.") The BLM's Environmental Assessment states, "When operating over public lands that have human occupation on the adjacent private property, the helicopters will maintain the minimum altitude." BLM promises to stay away from schools. They don't think there will be much trouble with residents because the choppers are all to be equipped with Global Positioning Systems, therefore won't be using homes as landmarks anymore.

The threatened and endangered species apparently won't mind because although "the effects of infrequent, short-duration noise on nesting success of these species is poorly documented" and "at some unknown altitude above 500 feet, rotor wash may have the effect of physically disturbing adults, the nest structure or nesting, when either landing or hovering below 500 feet above ground level or above canopy, it is assumed that an area of approximately five acres is directly disturbed." "Low altitude aircraft and helicopter operations could disturb wildlife... within the immediate vicinity of a landing and take off point. However, the effects of noise and other disturbance would be minor since close contact... would be infrequent and brief."

Another comforting note: There will only be 50 flights per year. Now, this is 50 reconnaisance flights (one chopper for up to eight hours) and 50 eradication flights (as many as two choppers for up to eight hours each). BLM claims, however, that this will modify effects that they might have on human and wildlife communities.

According to the Fox, the Chickens won't be disturbed.

Rest easy, CA BLM assures that no one will be any more bothered by them than we are by all the firefighting, search and rescue and news helicopters that otherwise sweep our skies. "Although some public comments indicate marijuana eradication operations can readily be distinguished from other types... and can be more intrusive, BLM concludes that... the impacts... would not differ substantially from those of other... uses. In most instances, the impacts... would be slight... The sight and sound of low altitude aircraft and helicopter use is a normal occurrence throughout the region."

This paperwork will satisfy the Judge. If citizens should see any flagrant violations, they may document the event and it could possibly be reviewed by the BLM or even the Judge herself.

Eternal Vigilance!

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