The Daniel Boone National Forest provides an array of natural resources that may be gathered for personal use, but there are a few rules to remember. The gathering of most forest products from national forest land requires the issuance of a permit by the U.S. Forest Service. Without a permit, only certain products may be gathered for personal use. Any forest product collected in bulk or intended for commercial purposes will require a special-use permit.
When gathering forest products, it is important to know if you are on private or public land. Maps are available at Forest Service offices that will help determine where national forest boundaries occur.
Wood for Campfires: Campers on national forest lands may collect firewood without a permit while camping. The wood collected must be "dead and down" and used for campfires only. No standing trees may be cut - dead or alive - of any size. No wood can be taken home or to private land.
Firewood may be collected only in designated areas with a valid firewood permit. A map of the designated area will be provided with the permit. Each firewood permit is a $20 minimum, which allows for the collection of up to 400 cubic feet (approximately four full-size pickup truck loads, or four cords). The permit is valid for cutting dead and down wood only, unless otherwise specified. No firewood permits are issued from the Supervisor's Office of the Daniel Boone National Forest in Winchester, Ky.
Plant Collecting is such a popular activity that a permit system is required to protect some species from over-collection. A permit for plant collecting is valid for only one district of the Daniel Boone National Forest, depending on which area the collector chooses. Collectors are required to state which species they will gather. Each plant collecting permit costs $20, and the expiration date may vary by species and by district.
Ginseng is one of the most commonly collected plant species. Due to declining populations, the ginseng harvest season is currently limited to a two-week span, from September 15 to September 30. The collected roots must be from plants with at least three prongs and at least five years of age. Collectors must plant at least half of the seeds within 50 feet of the harvest site to provide future crops. No seeds may be collected for personal use or for resale.
Any seeds not planted may be brought to a Forest Service office for nursery propagation. Only one permit will be issued per person per year, allowing up to one pound of non-dried ginseng root. Permits are not issued for forest-wide collection and do not include the collection of other plant species.
Other plant species commonly collected under permit include blue cohosh, black cohosh or snakeroot, yellowroot or goldenseal and bloodroot. Each permit for the collection of these species has a 10-pound limit. The permit is valid for only one district location of the Daniel Boone National Forest.
The collection of plants without a valid permit is punishable by state and federal law.
What Is Not Allowed
Rock collecting: Rock is considered a nonrenewable resource. The collection of rock, including river rock, is prohibited.
Taking of Historic and Prehistoric Artifacts: The taking of any historic or prehistoric artifact from national forest land is strictly prohibited. Historic items may include old nails, glassware and household utensils that were once used during early settlement years. Prehistoric items may include arrowheads, pottery and other objects that are centuries old. Any ground or earth disturbing activity is prohibited where historic and prehistoric artifacts may occur.
The stripping of bark from trees is prohibited on national forest lands and may be punishable by fine and/or imprisonment.
The Daniel Boone National Forest has five office locations that issue permits for gathering forest products.
Cumberland Ranger District
2375 KY 801 South
Morehead, KY 40351
Gladie Visitor Center
3451 Sky Bridge Road
Stanton, KY 40380
London Ranger District
761 South Laurel Road
London, KY 40744
Redbird Ranger District
91 Peabody Road
Big Creek, KY 40914
Stearns Ranger District
3320 US 27 North
Whitley City, KY 42653