Mountain High

dsc0008-edited-med-web.jpgAll those marijuana raids have finally paid off—not just for the environment, on which pot farms wreak havoc, but also for 49 of the local law enforcers who conduct them.

The U.S. Department of the Interior recently handed out its 2012 Partners in Conservation awards, including one to the law enforcement team of the Southern Nevada Agency Partnership. The award acknowledges successful collaboration among field rangers, investigators, special agents and other officers from local divisions of the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service and Department of Justice.

Since it started in 2003, the SNAP law enforcement team has fought a lot of crime in their 10 million-acre jurisdiction of forests, parks, recreation areas and refuges. Besides pot farms, officers have battled trash-dumping, archaeological artifact defacement, and illegal off-roading and target-shooting. They worked together to create a common bail schedule and coordinate saturation patrols in high-crime spots.

It’s not all good guys vs. bad guys, either. The team also does outreach in communities and schools to educate the citizenry on proper behavior in and use of the outdoors.

“We were the first partnership like this to share personnel across the field,” says John Tesar, an interagency liaison for the team. “A lot of land management in the U.S. has been territorial. We’ve learned to look past our differences and, wherever we have common missions, work together.”

The award doesn’t come with any money, Tesar says, but the prestige certainly can’t hurt in securing future funding for the team’s initiatives.

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