Men accused of secretly growing pot at Boy Scout camp near Cazadero

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Two Sonoma County men are accused of causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in environmental damage when they cleared about a half-acre of Boy Scout land in Cazadero to grow marijuana.

Nicholas Henderson, 30, and John Henry, 31, are charged with felony cultivation, possession for sale of marijuana and malicious mischief in connection with the garden, discovered in August at the 350-acre Camp Royaneh.

Deputies acting on a tip from neighbors found more than 100 trees sawed off chest-high with logs stacked between the stumps to create a terrace effect. Pot plants growing in burlap bags were irrigated by pipes leading from a neighboring house that also fed a large plastic storage tank.

A consultant estimated the cost to clean up the property and prevent erosion into nearby Austin Creek would be more than $280,000.

“They took a whole hillside and clear-cut the trees,” said Jason Lewis, a prosecution witness for the San Francisco Bay Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Lewis said the plants went undiscovered because they were in a remote section of the 90-year-old camp. Each summer, the camp hosts about 1,500 children, he said.

Last summer, adult scout members helped cut down some of the plants that deputies left behind, he said.

All told, there were 65 plants weighing more than 1,500 pounds. Lawyers for the defendants said Wednesday their clients were within the legal limits for growing medical marijuana. Santa Rosa attorney Jack Montgomery said doctor recommendations were posted on the property. Also, Montgomery said the damage was far less than estimated.

A preliminary hearing set for Wednesday was postponed to July 29.

You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ppayne.

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