Forest service curtails ginseng picking

out ginsengU.S. Forest Service officials are limiting the harvesting of wild ginseng in the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests, citing concern over reductions in wild ginseng numbers. The changes will take effect starting this year.

 Those who harvest ginseng on public forests must obtain a permit, which will be awarded through a lottery. The new rules will reduce the amount of ginseng permits issued by 75 percent, to 136. The permitted harvest season will also be cut in half to two weeks in September. Those requesting a permit must enter the lottery by July 15.

“Dramatic declines of wild ginseng populations over the past decade suggest previous harvest levels are no longer sustainable,” said Bail. “It is in everyone’s best interest to further limit the amount of the harvest to help ensure the plant’s future sustainability is protected following changes to wild ginseng harvests in the Nantahala and Pisgah National forests.”

The Forest Service also plans to increase law enforcement efforts to reduce poaching. Removing a wild ginseng plant or its parts from national forests without a permit or outside of the legal harvest season is considered theft of public property. 

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