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How Cannabis Growers Are Preparing For More Wildfires Out West

The historic drought puts the billion dollar industry at risk once again.

This story originally appeared on Leaf Report

Last weekend, multiple fires in Southern California and Arizona prompted evacuations, CNN reported, and prompted the destruction of more than 1,500 acres of land. And that’s just the beginning, for 2021.

Like farmers of every other crop, cannabis growers are watching, waiting – and preparing for the wildfires to come their way.

Related: The Western Wildfires Are Threatening Cannabis Farms

The drought factor

A concerning factor is that historic drought across the western states “The Sierra Nevada mountain range snowpack, which accounts for 30 percent of California’s fresh water in a typical year, was at 59 percebt of its yearly average on April 1,” Marijuana Business Daily reported. April 1 typically marks the end of the rain and snow season.

That snowpack figure represents the second significant shortage in two years. Accordingly, the U.S. Drought Monitor last week categorized most of Northern California’s fertile cannabis growing region as being under severe or extreme threat.

Everything is accelerated because of the dryness,” Roberto Steffano, a volunteer firefighter and cannabis grower, told MJ Biz. “There’s no rain.” Steffano grows a cannabis flower crop in the so-called Emerald Triangle; he’s in Humboldt County near Mendocino and Trinity counties.

Related: California Wildfires Claim Several Marijuana Farms, Threatening Growers With Financial Losses

Gearing up to fight

With suppression as his most immediate goal, Stefano has been concentrating on the maintenance of his 30 fire extinguishers, attached to his rig, pump house, solar panels and compound, MJ Biz reported. Steffano is also active in his local Palo Verde volunteer fire-fighting squad, which began in the 1980s with one truck and water pump and has since expanded to a fleet of trucks.

Steffano is hardly alone. In fact, local residents have been buying old pickups and attaching 200-gallon tanks and pumps to them.

Their anxiety is understandable, as MJ Biz reported. Before it went out of business, the California Growers Association attempted to inventory fire damage back in 2016, toting up losses to $100 million. Then the CGA gave up the inventory effort because, a former organization told MJ Biz, “It was just too hard.”