By JIM FOSTER
Special to the Parade
As the weather continues to stay dry – I know it’s too dry – many people enjoy getting out and some enjoying a vacation in higher climates. Manufacturers like the Coleman Company are constantly improving their equipment. Producing new products like their drip coffee maker sitting on a propane stove and making great coffee.
One of the signs of our modern ages is the problem with drugs and the cartel’s moving drugs across the border and now growing their own on our state and federal lands. The bigger the wild area the more chance there is to accidentally stumbling on a drug garden and putting yourself in real jeopardy.
Just this month a team of smoke jumpers out of Missoula, Montana unknowingly dropped into a 1,500-plant marijuana garden in a sheriff’s report. The smoke jumpers parachuted into the garden searching for lightning-sparked fires that were small and easy to put out at that point.
As unusual it is to find large marijuana gardens this early in the year, this one had an early start. Most of these gardens are found by campers and hikers in the late summers or in early fall.
In this garden there were 1,509 plants and hundreds of holes dug for future planting. Police investigators acting on the smoke jumpers report found two long guns and other evidence suggesting the plants were part of a Mexican cartel operation. If cartel guards had been on the site it could have proved deadly for the jumpers.
I would be amiss not to mention that anyone camping in large forest or wilderness areas, yes Virginia even Texans should use extreme caution and quickly leave the suspected location the way you came in and report the location to the proper authorities. If you have a GPS mark the location, again quickly the get out.
Signs you may be near a marijuana garden include ditches diverting water, PVC piping or black poly-pipe, bags of fertilizer, large quantities of trash and campsites.
Texas boasts many wildlife and wilderness areas that are open for public camping. These are located are in places where state and national parks do no exist. To the adventurous camper these sites are very attractive. Now please don’t think you should not camp in these areas but just be careful and enjoy the outdoors.
For those of you with Smart or iPhones there are several apps that will give you all the locations in the country and of course in Texas. The Texas Parks and Wildlife has a special page on their main web site telling all about camping possibilities. Campers may also make site reservations online to secure your site.
So friends and readers, enjoy your summer camping, take the family and explore our open wilderness areas, but keep your eyes open.
Editor’s Note: To see more of Jim’s writing and photography go to: http://fosteroutdoors.blogspot.com/. If you have comments or news for Jim Foster, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.