CEDAR CITY - Monday's marijuana grow bust is the first and perhaps the only one officers will get this season in Iron County.
With colder weather coming through, Sheriff Mark Gower says plants likely would have died in the frost. It’s not the largest one they’ve seen, but it is one of the more sophisticated.
"You could see they took a lot of four thought on how they placed the garden in there," Gower said. "To conceal it from the air, conceal it from the people who may walk through the area."
A tip from the Utah Highway Patrol led deputies to the grow up Cedar Canyon. Officers collected close to 2,000 plants, but that number is significantly less than the number of plants collected in previous years. It's an indication that growers are looking elsewhere for fertile fields.
The DEA reports in 2010 police seized more than 106,000 plants statewide. In 2013, that number was down to 13,000.
Southern Utah has always been a hotbed of activity for marijuana growers. Gowers said that's due to the rural landscape. But agencies have been cracking down on grows, leaving the manufactures to look elsewhere, or get more creative.
"They’re getting pretty brazen about how they do things," Gower said. "And we sure hate to see this in our back country, and see what they’re doing to our environment. We’re glad; it’s a victory every time we take one of these down."
Going into fall, marijuana grows will die down. Gower said its uncommon for hunters or those recreating in the back county to run into a grow operation, but if they do, he said don't stay around.
"Don’t spend any time there," Gower said. "Just move on and come out and report it to us. And then we’ll go to work."