In an effort to increase wild ginseng populations on national forest lands, a ban prohibiting ginseng harvest in the Daniel Boone National Forest has been extended through the 2017 harvest season, from Sept. 1 to Dec. 1.
In 2016, the forest stopped issuing ginseng collecting permits in an attempt to boost the plant’s population in the forest.
“Due to years of noticeable ginseng decline across the forest, we suspended the issuance of ginseng collection permits last year as a proactive approach to turn this trend around,” said Forest Supervisor Dan Olsen in a news release.
Ginseng is a slow-growing perennial plant. It is frequently collected and used in drinks or dietary supplements. Anyone buying and selling ginseng, other than harvesters, need to be licensed in Kentucky.
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Much of ginseng’s decline is attributed to illegal harvest methods. Overharvesting, out-of-season collection, the taking of mature plants without planting the seed for future crops, and the taking of all or most plants from a population are some of the contributing factors, the news release said.
In wild ginseng’s population range, Kentucky ranks at the top in ginseng harvests. Other states with high collection rates include West Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina.
On national forest lands, removing a 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 a six-month sentence in federal prison, or both.