Four Western North Carolina men have been sentenced in separate cases in Federal court for poaching ginseng from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Ginseng grows in the wild in Appalachia and can fetch high prices as a herbal medicine. Demand for the root has led to over-digging and a troubling decline in ginseng in the mountains. The national park is constantly combating the illegal taking of ginseng from within its borders.
The four defendants were each charged with possession of or the harvesting of ginseng roots. They pleaded guilty to the charges and were each sentenced as follows:
• Billy Joe Hurley, 45, of Bryson City, was arrested in October for harvesting ginseng. He possessed 187 ginseng roots. Hurley was sentenced to serve 120 days in jail.
• Mark S. Parham, 24, of Canton, was arrested in the Cataloochee Valley area. He possessed 176 ginseng roots. Parham, who has a prior conviction for harvesting ginseng on private land, was sentenced on to serve 40 days in jail.
• Anthony K. Sequoyah, Jr., 24, of Cherokee, possessed 150 ginseng roots, and was sentenced to serve 52 days in jail.
• Trinity D. Frady, 25, of Cherokee, possessed 32 ginseng roots, and was sentenced to serve 15 days in jail.
The recovered and still-viable ginseng roots were replanted by staff of the National Park Service.