Cannabis Impacts in the Yuba River Watershed

SYRCL wants to inspire the community to engage in sustainable and ecologically sound cannabis cultivation in the Yuba River watershed. Our scientists and concerned community members recognize that the environmental impacts of unregulated, large-scale cannabis cultivation are real. 

The most concerning impacts in the Yuba are:

  • The overuse of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, polluting the water and poisoning wildlife.
  • Illegal water diversions that result in loss of late season stream flow and dry up creeks.  The diversions also increase pollution and algae blooms in our streams and rivers.
  • “Trespass Grows” on public and forested lands cause deforestation and illegal land grading, damaging habitat for native fish and wildlife.
  • For more information and resources, see our Cannabis Resources page.

In 2016, California took the positive step towards regulating cannabis cultivation with Proposition 64, and Nevada County was the only county in the Yuba River watershed that followed the intent of the state mandate and regulate cannabis cultivation to protect our water resources. Visit Cannabis Cultivation in Nevada County for more information and the full draft of the Commercial Cannabis Ordinance (NCCO). Unfortunately, as of 2020, cannabis impacts in the Yuba River watershed are still largely unregulated due to lack of resources and regulations on federal land as well as Sierra, Yuba and Placer counties.

In 2021, we launched a survey to assess the impacts of cannabis cultivation on the community. Read the results here

At SYRCL we address these issues through Growing Green for the Yuba

SYRCL’s vision for Growing Green for the Yuba is to help the community understand how regulation can be a tool that allows agriculture to align with objectives that maintain water quality, and promote habitat for fish and wildlife. In partnership with important community cannabis stakeholders, we’re hosting educational and on-farm workshops, promoting Best Management Practices and participating in additional collaborative leadership, science, stewardship and education. As a community we can educate each other to ensure cannabis is grown in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way.