Monday, April 12, 2010

Plant Theft Case on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The following information is taken from the National Park Service Morning Report for April 12, 2010.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Two Ginseng Poachers Sentenced To Jail Terms

Ranger Joe Darling came upon a white Pontiac parked near milepost 373 along the parkway last October – a vehicle he’d seen parked in other areas several times previously. Darling suspected that it was being used by ginseng poachers, so investigated and found footprints leading from the vehicle into the woods. Following them, he found recently dug holes. Since it was beginning to get dark, Darling returned to his patrol vehicle and conducted surveillance on the Pontiac. He eventually saw two men emerge from the woods. Both exhibited dirt stained hands and clothing, but denied digging ginseng. Darling identified the individuals as Derek and Matthew Arold, both of Brevard, North Carolina, and released them due to lack of evidence. After they left the area, Darling again entered the woods and found a fanny pack containing 105 ginseng roots. He returned the next day and recovered a second fanny pack, this one containing 106 ginseng roots.
It had been hidden in a small rock cave adjacent to where the first fanny pack was found. Darling contacted and interviewed both men and subsequently charged them with illegally harvesting ginseng and conspiracy to harvest ginseng, as well as several other violations associated with the discovery.  On March 9th, Matthew Arold plead guilty to conspiracy to harvest ginseng and was sentenced to 30 days in jail; on April 8th, Derek Arold plead guilty to conspiracy to harvest ginseng and was also sentenced to 30 days in jail. Both were also banned from park and associated USFS lands for two years. [Tim Francis, Pisgah District Ranger]

You can learn more about the problems with plant theft from our National Parks in my book, A Park Ranger's Life: Thirty Two Years Protecting Our National Parks.

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