SACRAMENTO – Gov. Jerry Brown has signed AB 2284, legislation authored by Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D – North Coast) that gives law enforcement new tools to protect forest lands from environmental damage and the public from danger resulting from illegal drug production.
“AB 2284 will make our forests safer with regards to public safety and the environment,” Chesbro said. “One of my motivations for authoring this legislation was to address the increasing violence, and threat of violence, that makes it dangerous for those who work in our public and privately owned forest lands or for those who go there to hike, bike, hunt or fish. After the death of Fort Bragg City Councilmember Jere Melo last year while he was doing his job inspecting forest lands, it became imperative we do something to take back our forests.”
“Another motivation for authoring this measure is to curb the damage to the environment caused by illicit drug production on timberlands,” Chesbro added. “During two hearings I held last year as chairman of the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture, fisheries experts, the Department of Fish and Game and environmental groups documented the extensive destruction to our watersheds that further threaten endangered species such as Coho salmon.”
The legislation allows local law enforcement to pull over and question drivers transporting agricultural irrigation supplies on unpaved or gravel roads through resource land and timber preserve zones, but only in counties where the board of supervisors has passed a resolution requesting this service. AB 2284 also adds additional civil penalties for violations of certain Fish and Game Codes in conjunction with illicit drug production on resource and timberlands.
“This legislation is an important step in taking back our forests,” said Madeline Melo, who established a foundation named after her late husband that sponsored a forum earlier this year titled, ‘Take Back Our Forests.’ “This is an added proactive measure to help prevent environmental degradation and reduce the threats to wildlife and humans caused by illegal marijuana grows.”