Due to its vast and diverse terrain, San Bernardino County is home to a rich variety of unique flora and wildlife. However, the unfortunate reality is that many species unique to the county face various threats to their habitats and waterways that they depend upon for survival. 

The Land Use Services Department’s Code Enforcement Division ensures that property owners within the county comply with ordinances and state laws pertaining to land use, health and safety, and public nuisances. The Cannabis Enforcement Unit (CEU) focuses specifically on enforcing the county’s cannabis ordinance which prohibits the cultivation of cannabis.

Throughout the course of their work, they encounter numerous negative environmental impacts associated with the unlawful cultivation and sale of commercial cannabis.

These activities disrupt and endanger many species within our region. Consequently, the CEU has frequently collaborated with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) in combatting illegal cannabis cultivation. The CDFW’s mission is to manage California’s diverse fish, wildlife and plant resources, along with the habitats that sustain them. Code Enforcement Supervisor David Jorgenson emphasized the importance of their joint efforts by stating, “We often join CDFW in their warrant services, particularly in areas of the county where the environmental threats posed by cultivation sites are most pronounced, such as our desert and mountain communities.”

In these joint operations, biologists and other experts from the Regional Waterboards and the Department of Toxic Substances Control will join CDFW and Code Enforcement in documenting conditions and violations at cultivation sites for enforcement and potential prosecution.

Jorgenson continued, “Illegal cannabis cultivation often involves significant earth-moving activities, leading to disturbances in sensitive habitats for both plants and animals.  Moreover, some illegal growers utilize banned pesticides, rodenticides and miticides to protect their crops, exacerbating environmental degradation.” 

Supervisor Jorgenson highlighted the severity of this issue, especially when it occurs near water sources and watercourses, leading to contamination of runoff that can endanger local wildlife. He stressed the significance of perennial streams in desert areas, underscoring their critical role in the drainage and movement of precious water in the arid environment.

The desert areas of our county represent ecologically sensitive environments where careful oversight by state and local agencies like CDFW and Code Enforcement are crucial to safeguarding both the land and the species inhabiting it, thereby ensuring the ongoing safety and well-being of our communities and the natural environment.

Through vigilant oversight and concerted action, we can ensure that the natural splendor of San Bernardino County endures for generations to come.

Additional County Update News – April 25, 2024