WINCHESTER, Ky. (AP) -- The U.S. Forest Service is continuing a ban on ginseng harvesting in the Daniel Boone National Forest in eastern Kentucky.
Federal officials say they issued the ban in 2016 to stop the decline of wild ginseng in the area. The service previously had issued permits for ginseng collectors. The root of the plant is touted as an herbal medicine for various ailments.
Federal officials say much of wild ginseng's decline is attributed to illegal harvest methods. They say it is a problem throughout southern Appalachian states like West Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee.
The penalty for illegally removing wild ginseng from national forest lands includes a fine up to $5,000 or a 6-month sentence in federal prison, or both.