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MORGAN COUNTY -- Harvest season is about to begin for Utah's illegal marijuana crop. That has some agencies offering rewards for people who might stumble across them while hiking or hunting in the woods.
Two men will get about $1,200 for tipping the Weber-Morgan narcotics strike force to a growing operation this week near East Canyon. They were hunting Elk when they encountered the plants, which were being watered by a pipe that had been run from a nearby spring.
Agents didn't arrest anyone, but they did seize more than 1,200 plants.
Task Force Lt. Darin Parke says they're trying to encourage other people to be on the lookout.
"With the hunting season approaching, we're hoping other folks will give us more calls and help us identify more sites," he said. "It's a good way to pay for your hunting trip."
The task force will offer up to a dollar per plant that is seized, but Parke says there is a limit, especially with their restricted budget. The street value of the plants taken out of the mountains on Tuesday is estimated at nearly $1.5 million.
There's also a hazard. Some of the sites are guarded. That's why Parke says people who encounter the growing sites should simply leave quickly, call authorities and let them handle it.
In Tuesday's case, Parke says it appeared the growing was being conducted on a much lower level than some of the drug cartels that may have operations here.
Parke says there are some signs, including piping for water in remote areas and bags of fertilizers and the like in areas where they normally wouldn't be. He says marijuana plants themselves are also easy to identify.
The Drug Enforcement Agency also offers rewards on a case-by case basis for information on drug cases. A spokesperson says Utah set a record for the recovery of plants last year, and it's on track to break that record this year. He says the harvest is just getting started and he expects other operations will be uncovered in coming weeks.