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Ginseng Harvesting is banned in Nantahala And Pisgah National Forests for the second year

Gary Kauffman/U.S. Forest Service

Last year, the U.S. Forest Service didn’t issue any wild ginseng permits. This year, there still aren’t enough plants to harvest in the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests.

It could take a few more years before there are enough plants to sustainably harvest, according to the Forest Service.

“Ginseng harvest has been part of Appalachian culture for generations, and we want to see that continue into the next generation. Suspending ginseng harvest helps ensure wild ginseng on our national forests can rebuild its population. If we keep harvesting, the danger is that they’ll completely disappear from this area,” said Gary Kauffman, botanist for the National Forests in North Carolina in a press release.

The Forest Service says the low number of plants are due to 250 years of commercial harvesting and cut the number of permits by 75 percent in 2014.

Kauffman has worked with local organizations to reintroduce ginseng seeds into the national forests.

Removing wild ginseng or its parts from national forest without a permit is illegal. The fine is up to $5,000, a 6-month sentence in federal prison, or both.

Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.
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