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Thieves are targeting Oregon Grape for illegal harvests across Lane County

Oregon Grape in South Eugene.
Brian Bull
Oregon Grape in South Eugene.

The Oregon Grape is the state flower, but it’s also a target for illegal poachers. It's a decade-long problem conservationists and officials are trying to tackle.

With its holly-like leaves and bright yellow flowers, Oregon Grape is hard to miss. If only it could enjoy a lower profile, as people have been taking them without permission from public sites like parks and conservatories.

“36 instances that are documented since 2011,” said Abby Colehour, restoration projects manager for the Long Tom Watershed Council. The council’s working with Eugene city and Lane County officials to address the thefts, which largely focus on the roots.

“Especially during the pandemic, think there was more interest in herbal medicines," explained Colehour. "So there was an increase in theft of Oregon Grape root just in the past two years.”

Colehour said Oregon Grape can be legally gathered in designated areas, with special use permits issued by agencies like the National Forest Service.

Copyright @2022, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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