Wild ginseng.

ASHEVILLE- The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests announced May 30 that this year’s ginseng harvest permits will be determined again by lottery with an application period from June 10 to July 12.

Wild ginseng plants growing on national forests are managed by the U.S. Forest Service to meet the needs of present and future generations. In 2013, due to concern over reductions in wild ginseng numbers, the Forest Service implemented changes to wild ginseng harvests on the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forest to help conserve wild ginseng populations.

The number of permits issued is limited to 136 annual permits, a 75 percent reduction from historical permit issuances.

Nantahala National Forest:

- Cheoah Ranger District: 16 permits

- Nantahala Ranger District: 66 permits

- Tusquitee Ranger District: 10 permits

Pisgah National Forest:

- Appalachian Ranger District: 29 permits

- Grandfather Ranger District: 7 permits

- Pisgah Ranger District: 8 permits

A permit is required to collect wild ginseng in the two national forests during the designated harvest season. Those seeking a permit must call or visit a ranger district office and submit their name and address for the lottery between June 10 and July 12.

Requests by email will not be accepted. Written notification will be mailed to successful applicants selected by lottery before Aug. 16 District offices will begin issuing permits to selected applicants on August 26 with an effective date of Sept.1.

Permits are issued through a lottery system and are selected randomly by each district office. Individuals may submit their names at more than one district office.

A permit allows a person to harvest one to three wet pounds, at $40 per pound, of wild ginseng in the ranger district where the permit is issued. The permitted harvest season is two weeks and harvesting will be allowed Sept. 1 through Sept. 15, 2019.

Each district ranger may further limit ginseng harvests to certain areas of the national forest to allow the plants to regenerate or to protect designated wilderness and other natural areas. Harvest area maps and descriptions will be provided to permit recipients.

Harvest is prohibited in designated wilderness and other natural areas set aside for research purposes, such as Walker Cove and Black Mountain.

The Forest Service has increased law enforcement efforts to reduce poaching. The removal of 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. Penalties for plant poaching may include a fine up to $5,000, a six-month sentence in federal prison, or both.

Ginseng root has been favored as a tonic primarily in East Asia for the past two-and-a-half centuries. In North Carolina, ginseng is more common in the mountains, infrequent in the Piedmont and rare in the Coastal Plain.

Ranger contact information may be found at the National in North Carolina website:

For more information about harvesting ginseng in Nantahala and Pisgah National Forest, see this document provided by the United States Department of Agriculture:

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