A random permit drawing will be held the week of Sept. 1 to determine who may purchase a ginseng harvesting permit. Ginseng collecting is limited because of concerns for overall reductions in wild ginseng population numbers throughout its natural range.
For 2014, a maximum of 40 permits will be issued allowing 25 roots (approximately ¼ pound) per permit to be collected.
The 2014 Cherokee National Forest ginseng permitting and harvesting process will be as follows:
- The 2014 ginseng collection season will be from Sept. 16 to Sept. 30. This two-week period will be the only time that ginseng can be legally collected in the Cherokee National Forest by valid permit holders.
- The Forest Service will issue a total of 40 permits, each with a maximum limit of 25 roots.
- A drawing will be held to determine the 40 permittees. Twenty permits will be issued for the northern half of the Forest (Watauga and Unaka Ranger Districts) and 20 permits will be issued for the southern half of the Forest (Tellico and Ocoee Ranger Districts).
- Permit drawing applicants may only apply for either the north or the south Cherokee NF.
- Permits will cost $20 and are limited to one permit per person per year. Permittees must be at least 18 years of age.
- Five ginseng collection zones have been designated for the north Cherokee NF (Watauga and Unaka Districts), and five collection zones for the south Cherokee NF (Tellico and Ocoee Districts). One zone on each half of the forest will be open for collecting each year.
Collection zones will be rotated each year to allow plants a five year recovery period necessary to help ensure populations remain sustainable.
- For 2014 the following zones will be open:
— North Cherokee NF – Zone: 4 (Cherokee National Forest land within Carter County)
— South Cherokee NF – Zone: 1 (Cherokee NF land from the Georgia border north to the Ocoee River - includes Parksville Lake)
All persons interested in obtaining a permit to collect ginseng in either the north or the south Cherokee National Forest for the 2014 season must submit a letter of request to:
U.S. Forest Service, 2800 Ocoee St. N., Cleveland, TN 37312. ATTN: Ginseng Permits
Letters of request can be sent to the office listed above between Aug. 4 and Aug. 29, and must be received no later than Aug. 29 to be included in the drawing. Letters must include:
- Applicant’s full name (person who will do collecting)
- Mailing address
- Phone number of the individual who will do the collecting
- Which section of the Forest permit is being requested for – north Cherokee NF or south Cherokee NF (only one section can be applied for)
Successful permittees will be notified by letter beginning the week of Sept. 1. In order to obtain the permit, individuals must bring the letter of notification and valid ID to the Ranger District Office identified in the notification letter to pay for and sign the permit prior to collecting.
Once notified, successful applicants may obtain their permits immediately or anytime during the open season (Sept. 16 to 30).
If you have questions or need additional information please call: Watauga Ranger District – 423-735-1500, or Ocoee Ranger District – 423-338-3300; or visit the web site: http://fs.usda .gov/cherokee