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Old 11-03-2015, 10:41 AM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Northville, NY
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General "rules" about foraging on State land?

Hoping this is a safe question to ask, but what are the "rules" you follow when foraging on State lands in the ADKs? We'll hopefully be moving to a place inside the Park very soon and since my dreams of a hobby farm with a huge veggie garden and woodlot got budgeted down to a small quiet place surrounded by forest, I'm looking to make the most of it by spending a lot more time in the woods. I've seen a lot of comments here and other places about foraging for edibles, mushrooms, firewood, etc and noticed that for many people there's an implied set of rules that may differ from the laws in the books. Is it the sort of thing where if it doesn't hurt anyone and nobody sees it, it's more or less okay?

A couple examples I noticed:
Digging up a sack full of tubers off the trail is okay, doing it right by a campsite or popular trail isn't. Cutting up a tree dropped by the roadside in a storm for firewood is okay on a quiet road is okay but not on the side of the main road.

I can't tell if the distinction is based on what is more "intrusive" to others or if it's more about doing what you do where nobody sees you? I thought I understood the law as meaning you can't dig up edible plants or remove them, but then again if that's the case we wouldn't really be allowed to pick berries or mushrooms either and that obviously wasn't the intention. It's hard to know where the line should be drawn.
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Old 11-03-2015, 11:06 AM   #2
Boreal Fox
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The way I forage is by following a low-impact route while doing so, meaning I won't be digging up tubers or cutting and hauling logs out of the park. If something is exposed readily then I consider them fair game. For example, as far as mushrooms go, I do my best to only take the 'fruit' and leave the mycelium intact so it can continue to produce fruit in the future. If it's something like cattails, I won't dig up the roots but I will cut a few stalks to add to a meal, not harvesting to bring back home with me.
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Old 11-03-2015, 11:11 AM   #3
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Use of State Lands Part 190.8(g) No person shall deface, remove, destroy or otherwise injure in any manner whatsoever any tree, flower, shrub, fern, fungi or other plant like organisms, moss or other plant, rock, soil, fossil or mineral or object of archaeological or paleontological interest found or growing on State land, except for personal consumption or under permit from the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation and the Commissioner of Education, pursuant to section 233 of the Education Law.

If you check with the DEC, what this means is it is ok to pick reasonable size buckets of berries or mushrooms, for example, for personal/family consumption. But don't go selling them for profit or collect unreasonable amounts. Interpretation for citation is up to the DEC law enforcer on scene, and ultimately up to a judge. There have been cases of people picking such things and being fined. I know of a ranger who caught people with a large number of garbage bags full of fiddle heads that were destined for NY City. They could have been fined up to $300 for each head! I heard they got off with a relative minor fine and the loot was confiscated.
"Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth." -Walt Whitman

Last edited by Wldrns; 11-03-2015 at 07:29 PM..
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Old 11-03-2015, 04:35 PM   #4
Hard Scrabble
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I'd like to add that to my belief, the harvesting of ginseng is prohibited.
The cutting of firewood is a can of worms. We all know the regs about firewood and camping.
Generally, (I'm going out on a limb here) the harvesting of firewood from downed trees on any state, town or county owned road is prohibited.
Some municipalities allow it, some don't.
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Old 11-03-2015, 06:49 PM   #5
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Not sure about the rules but I tend to "harvest the apples but leave the tree unharmed". Ginseng is the exception where I will harvest the plant but be sure the seeds are mature and take care in planting them back in the same place as the harvest (and leave no scars in the process"). Basically respect the land and your peers and you will meet with little resistance.
"A culture is no better than its woods." W.H. Auden
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Old 11-03-2015, 10:05 PM   #6
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I may be slightly off topic here perhaps, and I'm not sure if it's considered against DEC regulations or not, but I admittedly often collect downed birch bark while hiking. Especially this time of year... Only picking up a piece or two off the ground here or there and putting it in my pocket, or sometimes strapping it to a friend's backpack in front of me, or even my dog's backpack.
I must say, my winter supply this year is looking pretty darn good!

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Old 11-03-2015, 10:54 PM   #7
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Anything I do will definitely be for personal consumption, as my wife has assured me she will not be eating anything I bring home, and as far as being reasonable about it that shouldn't be a problem either since I wouldn't do anything that I felt was "wrong" or excessive, and my personal limits are normally far below other people... or at least that's what they tell me when I question what they do.

I'm just starting through the foraging and wild edible guide books from the library so I'm not even sure what's really available where I'll be going, but I'll keep in mind the thought of always leaving some of whatever so there's a future "crop" for me and anyone else to enjoy. I'm mostly looking at collecting things that I can bring home and use for dinner, to supplement whatever I can manage to grow myself. Not looking to hoard it or sell it or anything like that. Just want to get away from the processed stuff from the store as much as I can, and make the most of the resources where I live.

Guess I'll have to do some more thinking about the firewood bit, and for now just stick with cleaning up storm-dropped wood where I have permission to take it... maybe ask the local highway department if they have a policy on roadside cleanup. Someone I asked about it said they sometimes have a back lot where they dump the wood they clean up and they might let any residents take what they want.
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Old 11-12-2015, 01:54 PM   #8
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Also check local regs on moving any part of a tree, living or not. For example, some areas forbid the removal of firewood because it can spread the beetle larvae that will grow up to become beetles and destroy trees.
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