Blue Ridge Parkway
Ginseng Poacher Arrested
On Friday, August 7th, ranger Joe Darling and training ranger Ryan Lindsay came upon a silver Nissan pickup parked at milepost 378. Fresh footprints led from the truck into the woods in an area known to contain ginseng, so the rangers checked to see if they could find the operator. Their efforts were unsuccessful. The two rangers came upon the same pickup at the same location on Saturday, but were again unable to find the operator. On Sunday, the rangers saw the truck yet again, but this time in another location about ten miles away. Fresh footprints led into the woods – and to
one Delmar Hughes. When contacted, Hughes was found to have dirty hands and soiled knees, typically found on those engaged in digging ginseng. He denied that he was engaged in poaching the plant, but further investigation and a search of his truck and the surrounding area led to the discovery of a black camera case containing 138 freshly-dug ginseng roots just inside the tree line. Hughes was arrested and subsequently admitted to digging in the park over the course of several days. On August 25th, he was sentenced to 30 days in prison, ordered to pay $100 in restitution for the replanting cost of the 138 roots, and banned from federal lands for a year. [Tim Francis]
The theft of plants from our National Parks continues to be a threat to fragile native resources. You can learn more about this problem and what citizens can do to help park rangers prevent such crimes in my soon to be published book A Park Ranger's Life: True Stories from Thirty Two Years Protecting Our National Parks.