US Forest Service Issues Limits On Ginseng Harvest - WSPA.com

US Forest Service Issues Limits On Ginseng Harvest

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The U.S. Forest Service is placing severe limits on the amount of wild ginseng that can be harvested in two national forests in western North Carolina due to instances of poaching. The U.S. Forest Service is placing severe limits on the amount of wild ginseng that can be harvested in two national forests in western North Carolina due to instances of poaching.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. -

The U.S. Forest Service is placing severe limits on the amount of wild ginseng that can be harvested in two national forests in western North Carolina due to instances of poaching.

"We had to do something to protect the plant," said Stevin Westcott with the U.S. Forest Service.

Wild ginseng can sell for$500 to $800 per wet pound. That's why officials believe poaching has become such a major issue.

Westcott says at least 12 people are busted each year for stealing ginseng.

This harvest season which starts Sept. 1 will be cut by half. Harvesting will only be allowed for two weeks, down from four.

The forest service also is reducing the number of permits issued to 136, a 75 percent reduction from recent years.

Permits will be issued through a lottery system by each district office.

"Unfortunately, poaching has had an effect on the plant populations, and so the forest service really has little choice but to reduce the number of permits that it issues," Westcott said.

Law enforcement presence will also increase in the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests where the plants grow naturally.

Officials say they're taking drastic measures to keep ginseng growing for years to come.

Those requesting a permit must call or visit the district office and submit their name and address by July 15.

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