The great state of North Carolina has implemented a lottery system on ginseng harvesting permits. Basically meaning to be able to dig wild ginseng you must have a permit, to get a permit you must be chosen randomly by a computer drawing .
From what I can determine from my research, and according to the “Sylva Herald and Ruralite” this lottery system was implemented in 2013. I have entered this drawing since it’s inception and to be honest I thought it was a waste of time, but this year I was fortunate enough to have my name drawn in the Grandfather district. This district is 192,000 acres.
As luck would have it, someone in the Tusquittee district of the Nantahala forest gave up their permit and I was offered that permit also, but due to it being so far away ( 300 miles or more) and landslides in the Nantahala gorge, I forfeited that permit.
On August 26 of this year, ( 2019) I drove 82 miles to the Grandfather district headquarters in Nebo NC where I met a lady who seemed to be upset that I showed up before they even got the door unlocked to buy my permit. But it turned out ( according to her ) she was just upset because she forgot to unlock the door! lol. I paid $120 dollars for a permit to dig up to 3 pounds of wet ginseng root. If I don’t find 3 pounds it is my loss. This permit comes with rules and regulations, I can only dig from September 1st until September 15th, they gave me maps showing where I can harvest roots, I must keep identification, maps and permit on me at all times and mark on the maps the general location of the dig, All seeds must be planted within 5 feet of the plant they came from, I cannot possess any seed. I can take 1 person with me in case an emergency arises, ie: snake bite, bee attack, bear attack, fall or other. If someone goes along they cannot assist in finding, digging or possessing any roots or seeds. At the end of the season ( Sept 15 ) I must return the permit stating how much I harvested with weigh tickets for any I sell, to the district headquarters! I plan to transplant any I find on property near my home and to teach my grandkids stewardship of this increasingly rare plant. I hope this rambling will help someone to understand the lottery system better and happy hunting!!!