[MPWG] NC wild leek harvest - aka: Ramps

Patricia_DeAngelis at fws.gov Patricia_DeAngelis at fws.gov
Tue May 3 12:33:03 CDT 2005

 (Embedded image moved to file: pic18190.gif)The New York Times             
 (Embedded image moved to file: pic29657.gif)                               
 May 3, 2005                                                                
 Demand for Wild Leek Prompts Harvest Limit                                 
 By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS                                                    
 Filed at 10:20 a.m. ET                                                     
 RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Demand for ramps -- a wild leek prized for its       
 strong flavor -- is expanding far from the mountains, propelled by a craze 
 for regional and seasonal food. So great is the appeal that officials are  
 trying to limit the annual harvest.                                        
 Beginning next year, civic groups that pick wild ramps in the Nantahala    
 National Forest for use in spring festivals will have to abide by new      
 Forest Service rules that dictate where and how to pick the plants as well 
 as levy a 50-cent-a-pound fee. The forest is in far southwestern North     
 The reason for the change: The government worries that big digs of ramps   
 are straining natural populations. A Forest Service researcher eager to    
 help preserve the festivals is accompanying the civic groups on this       
 year's digs to get a better handle on the true toll from their hauls.      
 ''If we don't figure out a way to manage them, they'll be gone,''          
 researcher Jim Chamberlain said. ''If there are no more ramps, there will  
 be no more ramp festivals.''                                               
 People in North Carolina still hike miles to pick enough ramps -- which    
 taste like a mix of garlic and scallions -- for special suppers during the 
 four weeks or so that the plants show themselves each spring.              
 In addition to other rules, the Forest Service says groups digging for     
 festivals will not be allowed to take more than half of the plants they    
 find in every square foot of a ramp patch.                                 
 Volunteer firehouses, rescue squads and civic groups have long staged      
 annual ramp festivals to raise money for community causes. Organizers of   
 the biggest festivals collectively pick more than 3,000 pounds of ramps    
 each year, Chamberlain estimates. It takes 40 to 80 plants to make a       
 Ramps range naturally from Canada to North Georgia and west to Missouri    
 and Minnesota. In Southern Appalachia, ramps are found in rich moist cove  
 hardwood forests, and prefer elevations above 3,500 feet.                  
 But demand for ramps is expanding far from the mountains, fueled by a      
 desire for fresh, interesting ingredients. Martha Stewart gushes over      
 ramps. Urban dwellers look for them in upscale produce markets and in chic 
 In 2002, ramps became so popular that the National Park Service banned     
 ramp collecting in the Great Smoky Mountains for fear they would be        
 harvested out of existence.                                                
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