Ginseng Harvesting on the Chattahoochee National Forest
Ginseng is a native plant of Georgia that grows mostly in cool, moist mountain forests. This perennial herb is highly prized for its large, fleshy roots which are believed to have medicinal value. Permits are required to collect wild ginseng in the national forest.
Range-wide, wild ginseng populations have declined over the past decade. Forest Service officials are limiting the harvesting of wild ginseng in the Chattahoochee National Forest because of concerns about sustainable harvest levels. We believe it is in everyone’s best interest to limit the amount of the harvest to help ensure that the plant’s future sustainability is protected.
In 2013, the Forest Service is implementing the following process for permitting wild ginseng harvests in the Chattahoochee National Forest:
A total of 42 annual permits will be issued.
40 permits will be issued for the Blue Ridge Ranger District and 2 permits will be issued for the Conasauga Ranger District. No ginseng permits will be issued for the Chattooga River Ranger District. (see Ranger District map here)
Permits will be issued through a lottery system, with entries randomly selected by each district office. Lottery entries can be made by calling or visiting the issuing district office before August 16, 2013. (find district office contact information here)
A permit allows the harvest of 1/2 wet pound of wild ginseng in the ranger district where the permit is issued. (Three wet pounds are equivalent to one dry pound.)
Permits are $20 each.
Harvesting is allowed for 2 weeks only, September 15-28, 2013.
Harvesting is prohibited in all designated Wilderness areas. Each district ranger may further limit ginseng harvests to certain areas of the national forest to allow the plants to regenerate, or to protect other natural areas. Harvest area descriptions and maps will be provided to permit holders.
In addition to reducing the legal harvest of wild ginseng, the Forest Service is increasing law enforcement efforts to reduce poaching. We are also developing a long-term strategy for managing sustainable ginseng populations that will include increased monitoring efforts.
These efforts will allow the Forest Service and partners to assess whether future measures may be needed to protect and preserve this important plant for generations to come.
Download a fact sheet about the 2013 ginseng harvesting permit process for the Chattahoochee National Forest.
Did you know? Removing 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 or 6-month sentence in federal prison, or both.