Assemlymember Wes Chesbro Press Release
Legislature approves bill to protect forests and forest users from criminal activity
AB 2284 goes to Gov as anniversary of shooting death of Jere Melo approaches
SACRAMENTO – The Legislature has given final approval to and sent to the governor a bill byAssemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D – North Coast) to give law enforcement tools to battle illegal drug operations, protecting environmentally sensitive forest lands and those who use them. AB 2284 goes to the governor for his signature nearly a year after the death of Ft. Bragg City Councilmember Jere Melo, who was killed when he stumbled on an illegal grow while inspecting forest lands near the city on Aug. 27, 2011.
“The best way to prevent illegal drug operations from damaging the environment and threatening those who use our forests is to stop these operations from being established in the first place,” Chesbro said. “This legislation gives law enforcement new tools to protect our public resource lands and private industrial timberland. AB 2284 also increases the financial penalties for conducting criminal enterprises on our forest lands to provide the funding needed to investigate these cases and clean up the environmental damage.”
AB 2284 allows law enforcement to stop and question drivers who are transporting in plain sight irrigation supplies – commonly used in illicit grows – over unpaved or gravel roads that run through specified resource lands. These include public lands and private Timber Preserve Zone forest lands of 50,000 acres or larger. Owners of TPZ lands of 2,500 acres or more can also opt in.
“I would like to thank Assemblymember Chesbro for authoring this bill and highlighting this huge environmental devastation that results from marijuana being grown in the forest,” said Madeline Melo, who started a foundation to protect forest lands in the name of her late husband. “Marijuana cultivation has caused large scale damage to wildlife and humans. While this bill is not the ultimate solution, it is a step in the process.
“My objective and the mission of the Jere Melo Foundation is not only to protect the environment and humans, but to ensure that nothing like what happened to my husband would happen to anyone else in the future. I hope to, once again, make the forest a safe place for people to do their jobs.”
Gov. Jerry Brown has until Sept. 30 to act on AB 2284.