- Associated Press - Saturday, March 29, 2014

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - With warmer weather approaching, visitors to the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests will turn out to collect ramps.

But officials with U.S. Forest Service are asking people to avoid collecting too much.

Gary Kauffman, botanist with the National Forests in North Carolina, said there’s been a decline in populations of ginseng and other forest products such as ramps. Kauffman said if their numbers get too low, the Forest Service may have to shorten the harvest season or ban the harvest altogether.

With permits, collectors may gather special forest products in certain areas of the national forests,

Removing any plant or its parts from national forest land without a permit could lead to punishment including a fine of up to $5,000, a sentence in a federal prison, or both.

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