Forest Service Report. However, the rugged terrain, high winds, and low humidity created just the right situations for a long wildfire battle. The same conditions have become common in the years since the canoe fireplace. Driven by drought, climate change and poor forest management, wildfires devour hundreds of thousands of acres of land in the West for 12 months out of the year, endangering communities and forcing residents to flee or fend for themselves. Volunteer firefighters were among the first to respond during the Canoe Fireplace, Manning said. "We discovered them and we took them out," he said. Long before Manning and other settlers moved into the area, Humboldt's lush forests were looted for generations by what he claimed was "rapacious logging" that left loose soil, reaching into rivers and streams, filling them gravel and sand. Water has consistently become a valuable asset in Humboldt and throughout California. Rivers that once flowed are dry, while boats remain moored in receding lakes.
As drought and local climate change hit the West, many outdoor growers face a new hurdle. Wildfires not only destroy crops, but also contaminate plants if they are drenched in chimney retardant or contaminated by excessive smoke. "The impact that wildfires can have extends beyond the single plant," said Luis Merchan, CEO of cannabis firm Flora Progress. Last year, during California's historic chimney season, which burned 4.2 million acres statewide, Hale was in high demand. While some cannabis companies have prepared with contingency plans for an emergency, many were not. "It was completely chaotic," he said. "There would be transitional time periods where we would have 15-25 requests for quick fixes due to the chimney hazard. Some buyers called Hale when firefighters banged on their doors telling them to evacuate. They wanted help getting money safely out of their facilities before wildfires or potential thieves broke out. Dozens of armored security vehicles scoured California to pack packages of cash, but it can take security groups several hours to reach remote locations like Humboldt, Hale said.
While Sacramento is the state capital, the Emerald Triangle is the cannabis capital of California, if not the entire country. It started as a haven in the late 1960s for hippies and people drawn to the back to earth movement, advocating a return to nature and sustainable agriculture. Since then, the Emerald Triangle has become a mecca for both licensed and illegal cannabis. Humboldt County began licensing as early as clandestine operations in 2016 under the state's medical marijuana program, and expanded grow licenses in 2018, when recreational cannabis grew to be licensed in California. Of the 7,951 grow license holders in the state, nearly 3,000 are in the Emerald Triangle, and 1,702 of those are in Humboldt County, in response to the state's Department of Cannabis Management. Lured by the promise of profiting from the inexperienced new fever, farmers from everywhere, along with Mexico, Bulgaria and Laos, flocked to the region, devouring land and diverting water for their crops.
The county, one of 50 under a state of drought emergency, is experiencing severe to extreme drought situations, in response to the US Drought Monitor. Governor Gavin Newsom called on all California residents this summer to reduce voluntarily use water by 15%. He also joined other Western governors in calling on the Biden administration to declare a drought catastrophe, which could free up federal sources to help affected communities. The ponds on Manning's property, which he relies on to drink and irrigate his cannabis crops, are already at half capacity due to personal use and evaporation. The last massive rain fell in March, and another is not expected until the earliest fall. In the past two years, it has measured about 30 inches of rain, compared to 90 inches and even 120 inches in previous years. While some oftheir neighbors installed cables in their ponds to prevent firefighting companies from accessing them by helicopter. through the raindrops, Manning's ponds remain unguarded. Footprints and paw prints dot a pond that is very low. "I'm leaving this for the wildlife," he said. Manning estimates he has about 50 days of water left. Your cannabis crops need a minimum of 1,500 gallons a day. "It's going to be tight. We're going to exhaust everything by the time this is over," he said.