Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Virginia State News

March 18, 2013

Regulation proposed to protect ginseng in Va.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — State agriculture officials are proposing a regulation aimed at ensuring the survival of wild ginseng in Virginia.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services developed the regulation to address concerns voiced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which notified the state in 2010 that current practices aren't adequate to ensure ginseng's survival in Virginia.

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has expressed concern that without this regulation, it may not be able to continue to issue a nondetriment finding for the export of ginseng from Virginia, which would result in a prohibition on the export of ginseng from Virginia and effectively stop the harvest of this plant for commercial purposes. A conservative estimate of the annual value of ginseng exported from Virginia is approximately $1.5 million," the state agency said in a notice published in the Virginia Register of Regulations.

Under the proposal, only ginseng that's at least 5 years old could be harvested. The harvest season would begin Sept. 1 instead of Aug. 15. Harvesters would be required to plant the seeds of harvested plants at the site where the plants were taken.

The proposal also would establish seasons for licensed dealers to buy uncertified green and dry wild ginseng root. Uncertified green wild ginseng could be purchased from Sept. 1 through Jan. 14. The purchase season for uncertified dry wild ginseng root would be Sept. 15 through March 31.

The regulation would not apply to people who harvest wild ginseng on their own land. But the agriculture department said the dealers' purchasing restriction would encourage private landowners to wait until September, when the ginseng fruit has ripened, to harvest ginseng on their property. The Fish and Wildlife Service had expressed concern that year-round harvesting is allowed on private land in Virginia.

The Virginia Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services will hold a public hearing on the proposed regulation March 28 in Richmond.

The General Assembly declared wild ginseng a threatened species in 2008.

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