Pot plants found on Greenway

Jackson County Sheriff's Department found 65 marijuana plants while flying over the Bear Creek Greenway on Tuesday morning. Ten of the plants were on property owned by the City of Ashland near the waste-water treatment plant off of Nevada Street. Another ten plants were found on private property nearby. The balance of the plants were near Medford.

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters said no arrests were made and they don't know who planted the marijuana.

"My guess is it's people that live in or around the Greenway," he said. "It could be someone who lives in town and rides down the bike path. It could be a combination of both."

Winters said he does not suspect the grower &

or growers &

are professional pot farmers or related to drug cartels that grow thousands of plants in remote areas of public forests. The plants found near Ashland were between three and five feet tall, whereas large patches often contain much taller plants.

"I wouldn't say it's a professional operation," Winters said. "These were just private patches. It's just localized growing. Anybody can do it. It's just like growing corn."

Winters said the Bear Creek Greenway, a swath of parkland that follows the Bear Creek from Ashland to the Rogue River, offers ideal conditions for growing marijuana, noting that there is accessible water and the foliage makes for good cover.

But he is surprised more people don't realize that local law enforcement routinely flies over the Greenway looking for marijuana plants. Last year Jackson County Sheriff's Department confiscated 35 to 60 plants from the Greenway and in 2005 they found 600 plants there.

"I would think people would figure out we patrol that area in a helicopter," he said.

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