From the Field: A powerful letter recently submitted by member and Petaluma local Colleen Mahoney to the Board of Supervisors:
March 22, 2018
Supervisor David Rabbitt
Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive Room 100A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
RE: Pending Applications for Commercial Cannabis Farms
Sonoma County, Specifically Application No. UPC17-0095
Dear Supervisor Rabbitt,
The Mahoney family has lived on our 60+ acre ranch at 2781 Middle Two Rock Road, Petaluma for over 4 generations. Our land is made up of gardens and orchards for our own use, creeks providing safe haven to many species of wildlife, and open grazing land for cattle. Occupancy of our land traces back to the Coastal Miwok. Dating back to great grandparents, our family has been aware of the unique habitat on our property of tree-lined creeks supplied with water from natural springs. The creeks provide habitat for many species of insects, amphibians, birds and mammals. This diverse wildlife habitat is the bellweather of our well functioning land.
Now, this habitat will be threatened by the potential cannabis farm proposed at 3215 Middle Two Rock Road, uphill of our creeks, springs, ponds and wells. It is clear that ag chemicals degrade groundwater and ultimately surface water. “Applications of pesticides and fertilizers to cropland can result in significant additions of contaminants to water resources”. High concentrations of nitrates can contribute to general degradation of aquatic habitats – especially along the riparian zones of creeks – such as those we have on our property.
Research shows (UC Davis) that pesticides and herbicides negatively impact groundwater and surface water with chemical run offs than can last up to 4 years even after a cannabis cultivation site is abandoned – killing protected species as the chemicals seep into downhill riparian areas and make their way into the food chain. In addition to wildlife on our property, we want to protect our orchard, vegetable gardens, and beef cattle. Our springs feed the irrigation systems on our ranch.
Common pesticides used in the cannabis industry include carbofuran – which is banned in the US, Canada and the EU and yet carbofuran is found in 6/13 of our watersheds. We don’t see how the County can properly monitor the use of pesticides, herbicides, and rodenticides with no EPA guidance. When crops are grown legally and under the guidance of the EPA – the agrochemical companies pay for research and submit results to the EPA. But, in the cannabis industry – the adjacent property owners – our neighborhood will have little to no protection. How can the County approve any use that will jeopardize important wildlife species and vegetation in addition to the source of our own domestic water? Rodenticides are often used in the cannabis industry. When young plants are started Rodenticides are used to prevent mice and rats from eating them. These toxins cause rodents to internally bleed to death – and they are also toxic when inhaled or when they come into contact with skin. Their toxicity runs through the food chain from mice to raptors and we have many beautiful red tailed hawks and owls here. You can imagine how concerning this is to us – for the wildlife on our ranch as well as our domestic pets.
The proposed cannabis farm at 3215 Middle Two Rock Road is located on a ridge line – which means that it impacts watersheds flowing in two directions. Neighboring ranch properties rely on this watershed for domestic use and irrigation. Hydrogeologists will confirm that drought conditions result in insufficient recharge of our aquifer. It is a fact that the water table can get so low in our area that neighbors need to haul water in. Overuse of groundwater could cause our springs to disappear.
The ongoing needs of our property and that of our neighbors should not be knowingly jeopardized by a crop that is known for excessive water use. In a community that struggles with drought conditions – how can anyone justify allowing permits for an ag crop that uses somewhere between 350,000-600,000 gallons of water per acre per grow season? Our aquifer cannot support this. We do not believe that any hydrogeologist – who looks at our specific neighborhood – will be able to provide supporting data and analysis that will certify that the onsite groundwater supply will be adequate and sustainable. We believe that excessive water use will result in an overdraft condition of our aquifer, a reduction of critical flow in our nearby springs, creeks, and ponds, and will likely interfere with offsite, neighboring wells. Any cannabis farm will result in a new increase in water use on site and result in a negative impact on downhill neighboring properties. There is no size for a cannabis farm that would be “appropriate” for our neighborhood.
We believe that the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors must make our area an exclusion zone. We do not think that any case can be made for allowing cannabis farms throughout our hills and valleys.
Our neighborhood should be able to enjoy peace of mind without the security threats a cannabis operation causes. We are also concerned about our safety and that of our children. Middle Two Rock Road is poorly maintained and very narrow. In addition to the potential criminal element that cannabis attracts, we feel that intensified farming (and security) will also increase traffic. Our country roads cannot safely support additional traffic.
The proposed cannabis farms in the Two Rock Valley will be detrimental to all of us. The high use of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and rodenticides will impact our water and the natural habitats on our properties. The high use of water will negatively impact our aquifers. This ag crop will bring potential crime as well as increased traffic adding to safety concerns along old, narrow country roads. We understand that odor can also be very, very offensive from cannabis farms.
We believe that cannabis farming is not compatible with the existing land use of our community. Cannabis farming will be detrimental to the health, safety, peace, comfort and general welfare of persons currently residing or working on our neighborhood and it will be injurious to our property. All of these impacts will cause loss of property values.
We request that The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and our elected representatives heed our concerns. We stand with our neighbors as solidly opposed to any/all cannabis operation in our community. We support a much more rigorous review of the impacts of cannabis farming and request that you place holds on all permits.
Colleen Mahoney Veronique Anxolabehere
Mikayla Mahoney Nicolas Anxolabehere
California Senator Mike McGuire
Andrea Krout, District Director to David Rabbitt
Crystal Acker, project planner, Sonoma County
Tennis Wick, Director PRMD, Sonoma County
“No Pot on Purvine” group
Our neighbors in Two Rock Valley