New year, no ramps: West Virginia parks nix harvesting

West Virginia

FILE – In this Oct. 9, 2019 file photo, the New River Gorge Bridge is seen from Fayette Station in Fayetteville, W.Va. A West Virginia program that offers cash incentives for out-of-state workers to move to the state has welcomed its first round of new residents and has opened up applications for more. The goal of the program is to leverage one of West Virginia’s most appealing assets, its epic natural beauty, to stem the tide of population loss. (F. Brian Ferguson/Charleston Gazette-Mail via AP, File)

GLEN JEAN, WV (AP) — Beginning with the new year, visitors will no longer be allowed to harvest ramps within the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, Gauley River National Recreation Area and Bluestone National Scenic River in West Virginia.

The National Park Service announced the change recently, noting that in recent surveys, park biologists could find no evidence of several historic ramp populations and some other sites were “overwhelmingly small.”

Ramps, also known as wild leeks, are a spring onion native to the rich, deciduous forests in eastern and Great Lakes states. 

Ramp harvesting can be permitted for personal consumption, but only if it is determined that “the gathering or consumption will not adversely affect park wildlife, the reproductive potential of a plant species, or otherwise adversely affect park resources.” 

Since ramp harvesting usually entails the collection of the entire plant, park officials can’t say that harvest doesn’t adversely affect its population, according to the release.

The restrictions will continue until biologists determine that harvesting can occur while still maintaining a viable ramp population within the three national parks. 

In addition, park biologists will investigate the feasibility of restoring historic ramp populations through reintroduction. Additional surveys, monitoring of plant populations, and research into leaf-only harvesting will also continue.

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