Anyone up for an email/phone conversation about harvesting herbs in Appalachia and the future of harvesting here?
I work for one of NC State's research stations out in Fletcher, NC. I have been working on a project funded by the forest service that is looking at about 12 forest herbs that are traded in southern Appalachia (black cohosh, goldenseal, yellowroot, false unicorn/star grubb root, morels, ramps, galax, partridge berry/squawvine, slippery elm, and lovage/boar-hog root/angelico).
I would really love to talk to any of y'all that are harvesting or buying these herbs/plants and your opinion about what is going on, concerns, ideas, really any general stuff. I want to make sure that this report represents all people involved and to show the forest service how important harvesting is in Appalachia.
PS some of you may have received a survey in the mail from me - thanks for replying
Here are some general questions I've been thinking about. Feel free to respond here (I couldn't figure out how to do a new topic...) Everything is confidential, but I just wanted to spur some discussion. Feel free to answer as many or as little as you like on the forum, or just contact me.
1. Where do you primarily wild-craft?
a. public forest land b. private forest land
2. Is the wild-harvest permitting system within the National Forest easy to understand?
3. Is the permitting system difficult or cumbersome to use? If yes, please describe.
4. In your opinion, are forest medicinals being overharvested and in danger of extinction?
5. The forest herbs on the list above are ones the U.S. Forest Service has some concern about. Do you think any of the herbs on this list are very threatened and should not be commercially harvested at all?
a. Are there any that you feel are so plentiful they should not even be on this list of concern?
b. Are there any herbs not listed here that you feel should be here?
6. What does the term “sustainably harvested” mean to you?
7. Do you feel a personal responsibility for ensuring that these resources remain plentiful for future harvests?
8. Do you already have a relationship with a buyer for your herbs? If yes, how long have you been selling to that buyer(s)?
9. What kind of advice would you give policy makers and forest service agents about the management of herbs in our public forests?
10. How have prices that you’ve received for medicinal herbs over the last 5 years changed?
11. Have you noticed populations of any of the above herbs declining over the years?
12. How do you decide which herbs to wild-harvest for?
13. How often do ‘new’ herbs enter the trade?
14. How can we work together to make sure that plants are there to harvest in the future.
I read your post and my first thoughts were that you are about to open a hornets nest full of complaints along with some thoughts that will be just what you might want to hear.
We have gone down this path before here at Wildgrown and it got sort of rough. I tried at first to email you to be more private but the link did not work.
I am from Tennessee and I primarily hunt in the Cherokee National Forest. I do not dig to sell , but I try to reestablish what has been lost in the forest to some sort of past level. One of your first questions was about the permit systems or cooperation with officials in the NFS as to whether certain herbs should be allowed to be dug. There is no use to even go any farther than this point to answer any thing else since it seems to be impossible to get anyone to talk to you from the Forest Service. They have no intention of talking to the common person so relating thoughts to them is useless through a third party. The only path that the Forest Service has at the moment is to let the Ginseng digging die a slow death by continuous poaching or to close compartments for years at their convenience. There is no such thing as using the costs of digging permits to help replace depleted ginseng sources or any other herb..
Thank you for your response. you are not the first one who has relayed such thoughts to me, but I think they are important to hear, though I can understand why it may seem pointless to talk about it. I don't mean to cause a ruckus at all. I know I may be naiive, young, and a new transplant to this area, but if I am going to take the time to write a report about plants that belong to a community here - not just a single entity or organization - I want to try my hardest to hear the knowledge and experience that people on this forum have (and of course elsewhere). you could probably charge permit fees for the knowledge you have in your head! (kidding, sort of.) So again, I really appreciate what you said, thank you. I'm sure its frustrating from people who are so familiar with this dynamic. Thanks for your patience.