Cannabis for Conservation


Mission Statement

Cannabis for Conservation is dedicated to conserving persisting natural resources, restoring degraded ecosystems, and educating communities to prevent further ecological harm from unsustainable cannabis cultivation.


Cannabis for Conservation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that was formed in response to the environmental impacts of wide-scale, unsustainable cannabis cultivation. As biologists and conservationists, we saw the need for a true conservation ethic to be instituted into the burgeoning legal industry.  Our motto is if cannabis is to be here, then it needs to be for conservation— not against it. The word “conservation” means something very specific in ecology— it implies use, but sustainable use. In doing so, our invaluable wild resources can be maintained in both health and integrity. Our mission is to conserve persisting resources, restore degraded ecosystems, and educate communities to prevent further impacts from unsustainable cannabis cultivation.
California legalized recreational cannabis in 2016, solidifying its place in California’s economy. Presently and for decades prior, illicit cannabis production has sustained the communities of Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity Counties, constituting the “Emerald Triangle”. Continuous unsustainable production has led to extensive environmental degradation, which is now being recognized and researched.
While not all cannabis production has been environmentally deleterious, much of historical cultivation has negatively impacted ecosystems, causing significant harm to the wildlife, land, and water of Northern California. Research has shown the presence of anticoagulant rodenticides in the wild food web, low water levels from diversion, and contamination of watersheds from fertilizer and pesticides. Much of this degradation occurs from “trespass grows”, or cannabis grows on public lands. These grows severely impact the ecosystems in which they persist, and are one of the leading threats to their stability.
It is because of this history that cannabis must make conservation a cornerstone in its foundation—not only for wildlife, but also for the health of the communities that gave rise to it.
1) instituting conservation, adaptive management, and ecological monitoring programs for cultivator properties— the basic pillar of the industry— that will further scientific understanding of the cannabis-wildlife dynamic, enhance farm biodiversity, and further cooperative relationships between historically polarized interests
2) reclaiming trespass cannabis grows on public lands in Northern California to reduce deadly toxicants and trash on the landscape.

Program Details

Ecological Research & Monitoring on Permitted Cannabis Farms
Our research seeks to enhance habitat for native species, increase biodiversity, find effective non-toxicant deterrents and biological controls for Integrated Pest Management plans, and monitor species persisting on farms over time.
Cannabis for Conservation is working with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife to help manage and conserve Pallid bats, a California Species of Special Concern, on legal farms through the establishment of the first Voluntary Local Program. This project is still underway, so stay tuned!
Pack Horses for Conservation: Support for Public Land Trespass Grow Reclamation
Cannabis for Conservation is teaming up with the Integral Ecology Research Center (IERC) to support reclamation of trespass grows on public lands. Our pack team is packing out gear and supplies for reclamation crews, expediting the time it takes to physically access these sites. The goal is to ultimately save access time for each site, with the hopes that more reclamation work can be completed for 2019. We received a grant from the California Wildlands Grassroots Fund to complete our first pack support trip. Check our social media links at the bottom of this page for updates on this project.
The Cannabis Removal on Public Lands Project (CROP)
Cannabis for Conservation’s Executive Director, Jackee Riccio, is the Regional Field Director of the CROP Project. CROP is addressing the overwhelming issue of cannabis cultivation on public lands, known as “trespass grows”. Public lands include National Forests, BLM land, and designated Wilderness Areas. Trespass grows are extremely hazardous sites, and greatly jeopardize the ecosystems in which they exist. Given that 60% of California’s water originates from National Forests, high contamination of watersheds threatens recipient communities and dependent wildlife. These sites harbor illegal pesticides such as Carbofuran, Sarin-based Malathion, Bromadiolone, chemical fertilizers, and heaps of trash. The pesticides are highly toxic, and are expensive and difficult to remove given the topography of the landscape where trespass grows persist. Non-target wildlife has also been severely impacted by the presence of these pesticides, many of which were already imperiled populations. Reclamation of trespass grows is crucial for the conservation of certain species including the Pacific Fisher (Pekania pennanti) and the Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina), but also for the safety of communities in the vicinity of trespass grows, and users of public lands.
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PO Box 34
Arcata, CA 95518
United States
Social Media Links