Blue Ridge Parkway Rangers conducting surveillance on August 27th near an area known for ginseng poaching saw a man dressed in camouflage in the woods. The man, identified as Brian Witherel of Fletcher, North Carolina, admitted to digging ginseng and was found to have 21 roots in his possession.
A second surveillance operation at another site known for ginseng poaching, this one on September 17th, led to a contact with Gregory Grycki of Asheville, North Carolina, who had 79 ginseng roots in his possession. Both were arrested.
Last week, each man appeared before a federal magistrate and entered a guilty plea. Witherel was sentenced to 11 days in jail and Grycki received 25 days in jail. The current price for ginseng in western North Carolina ranges from $410 to $425 for dry ginseng and $110 for green ginseng. Rangers also determined that Witherel had sold 16.6 pounds of dry ginseng and 3.5 pounds of green ginseng in 2008 for an estimated return, based on the market at the time, of over $10,000.