Catoctin Mountain Park is facing an ecological threat due to illegal ramp harvesting, which not only violates federal law but also endangers the plant’s long-term viability.
The act of harvesting involves uprooting the entire plant, making it harder for ramp populations to regenerate compared to other natural products like berries or mushrooms that can be harvested sustainably, according to a news release by the National Park Service (NPS).
Research suggests that it takes several years for ramp patches to recover from harvesting. Consequently, the NPS is focusing on the protection and preservation of the ecosystems and natural beauty within Catoctin Mountain Park, benefiting campers, RVers, and outdoor enthusiasts.
While ramp harvesting is prohibited, the park does permit visitors to gather specific berries and edible mushrooms by hand for personal consumption.
However, individuals must adhere to a daily limit of one-half (1/2) gallon per person. The allowed berries include blackberries, raspberries, wineberries, dewberries, and blueberries.
In 2022, the NPS issued multiple violation notices for illegal harvesting and increased efforts to raise awareness about park regulations concerning ramp harvesting.
Catoctin Mountain Park now collaborates with other eastern national parks to tackle the issue of illegal ramp harvesting.
Superintendent Rick Slade highlights the importance of following park regulations in order to protect the park’s plants, wildlife, and historic resources. With the growing number of visitors, Slade encourages everyone to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities during their stay.
Visitors can report illegal plant harvesting or any other potentially unlawful activities by contacting the National Park Service dispatch center at 301-714-2235. Offenders face severe penalties, including a maximum fine of $5,000 and a six-month jail sentence.
By adhering to park regulations and reporting any illegal activities, campers, RVers, and outdoor enthusiasts can contribute to the conservation of the natural ecosystems within Catoctin Mountain Park, ensuring a healthy environment for future generations to appreciate.