National forest ginseng season, rules to know
WINCHESTER, Ky., Aug. 27, 2015 – Ginseng harvest season in the Daniel Boone National Forest opens soon, but there are some rules to know before you go.
Many people believe ginseng to have medicinal value in treating a variety of health conditions. The herbal market has increased the demand, and wild ginseng populations are dwindling as a result.
A permit is required, which may be purchased at any district office beginning September 1. Only one $20 permit is issued per person per year. The permit must be on the person when collecting.
Permit holders may collect up to one pound only of green, non-dried ginseng root.
The permits apply only to national forest lands on the district that issues the permit. Forest-wide harvest or taking from more than one district is prohibited. Permits are limited and may be restricted to specific areas. Maps and harvest area descriptions will be provided.
Only wild ginseng plants with three or more leaves and at least five years old may be harvested. Collectors can determine plant age by counting leaf scars at the top of the root before removing it from the ground.
To provide for future crops, ginseng collectors are required by law to plant seeds from harvested plants within 50 feet of the harvest location.
“All of these rules are for good reason,” said Forest Botanist David Taylor. “If people follow these rules, they can help ensure that we have ginseng in the future.
“The illegal harvest of ginseng is impacting this species across southern Appalachia, and in some areas, it’s been reduced to unsustainable levels, which means it is likely to disappear from that area for good.”
On national forest lands, anyone removing wild ginseng plant or its parts without a permit or outside of the legal harvest season is considered theft. Penalties for poaching may include a fine up to $5,000 or 6-month sentence in federal prison, or both.
U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officials have issued several citations over the last few months that require a mandatory court appearance in federal court. Most recently, three individuals were fined $500 each and sentenced to two years/30 days probation.
The Kentucky state regulations and harvest season for ginseng are different from the rules that apply in the Daniel Boone National Forest. For more information, visit the state website at http://www.kyagr.com/marketing/ginseng.html and the DBNF website athttp://www.fs.usda.gov/main/dbnf/passes-permits/forestproducts.