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Last remnants of Arizona wilderness-area pot farm removed

PHOENIX -- Nine years after an illegal marijuana-growing operation was found in one of the state's most rugged and remote country near Strawberry, Fossil Springs Wilderness has been restored to its natural condition.

About 20,000 pot plants were found in 2005 and eradicated but it took until now to come up with the funds to remove 3,000 pounds of irrigation tubing and other garbage from the wilderness area. Clean-up required helicopters to haul out the load.

Heather Noel, a Forest Service spokeswoman, said 150 pounds of trash was removed, gathered up by volunteers with Arizona Wilderness Coalition earlier this month.

"You don't normally have helicopters fly in a wilderness area but we would've done a lot of damage with that many people getting the garbage out of there," Noel said.

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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