State park rangers and a Sonoma County sheriff's SWAT team raided in the Austin Creek State Recreation Area Wednesday morning and found three separate marijuana grow sites and several thousand plants, parks officials said.
More than 20 officers from the Department of Parks and Recreation and the sheriff's narcotics force conducted the early morning raids as part of an increased effort by the Russian River District public safety office to eradicate illegal pot growing operations in state parks, according to a statement by parks spokeswoman Jenny Donovan.
More than 2,000 pot plants were located and destroyed.
Two recently used encampments were also found during the operation, though nobody was found there, Donovan said.
Evidence including timber clear-cutting, poisonous chemicals, animal traps, human waste and stream water diversion were documented during the raids.
Citing the environmental harm that drug operations inflict on the 5,000-acre state recreation area and the potential threats to the safety of summer visitors, park officials stated that the multi-agency drug eradication effort will try to identify further grow sites and prosecute those responsible for maintaining them.