East Bay Regional Park police officers found $1 million worth of marijuana plants Friday when they raided a growing operation in a remote ravine in the Las Trampas Regional Wilderness, police said.
Police said they found about 3,300 plants in the raid, which was conducted at 4 a.m. in an area between Castro Valley and San Ramon. No arrests were made.
That's a bigger than average haul, according to parks police Capt. Mark Ruppenthal. Authorities find about one such crop a year in Las Trampas – a 5,342 park with lots of trees, valleys and ravines.
Park police conduct daily patrols of the park property. The 3,300 plants were spotted by helicopter during routine patrols, Ruppenthal said. An elaborate irrigation system that tapped into the park's water supply was watering the crops.
"It used up enough water for us to notice a drain on our system," Ruppenthal said.
The irrigation system used PVC pipes to tap into natural springs and covered "quite a distance," Ruppenthal said. "It's absolutely elaborate."
The plants found Friday grew in a ravine, partially obscured by trees, police said. Marijuana needs a lot of sunlight to grow, so they can't be completely hidden.
These operations concern the park district because suspects remove native plants and use fertilizer, poisons and pesticides, according to police.
Budgets cuts have forced the parks department to cut some positions, Ruppenthal said. But he's still not clear how much of an affect that's had on his agency's ability to patrol the area.
"We'll have a better idea in a couple of weeks," he said. "We're looking into that."
The plants were taken to an undisclosed location and destroyed.
Anyone with information about the growing operation is asked to East Bay Regional Parks Police at (510) 881-1833.
– Bay City News contributed to this report