Q: Can you harvest ferns from your own property and sell them?

A: Minnesota Statute 88.641 sub 1b defines decorative materials as forest products that are collected or harvested from growing coniferous or deciduous trees, bushes, saplings, seedlings, shrubs, or herbaceous plants, including the tops, branches, or other parts cut from any of the foregoing, untrimmed or in their natural condition, intended to be sold or used for decorative purposes.

Since a fern would most likely fall under herbaceous plant it would be considered decorative material by statute. Therefore, MS 88.642 regulates the harvest, transport, and sale of these items. Subdivision 1 is lengthy, but to narrow it to the applicable sections to answer this question the statute requires written consent to be obtained and carried by any person cutting, harvesting, removing, possessing, or transporting more than 100 pounds of decorative materials. If someone is just harvesting a small amount of ferns from their own property, there is no requirement in this to carry written permission.

Subdivision 3 requires states that no person, common carrier, bough buyer, or authorized agent shall purchase or otherwise receive for shipment or transportation any decorative materials without recording the seller’s name and address along with the written consent form. So make sure whoever is buying them from you is recording this information.

Rarely do we deal with people who are harvesting ferns or like materials. The most similar issue we deal with frequently in this area is illegal harvesting/transportation of tree tops and pine boughs. There is a high incidence of non-compliance with these regulations, and there are people making a lot of money on these resources. Some are harvesting legally aside from not carrying the required paperwork, but many are stealing from public land and selling to unknowing or sometimes intentionally dishonest dealers.

Any time there is a chance to make money from our natural resources there is a likelihood that someone will take advantage and try to skirt the rules This not only hurts the resource but steals from the citizens of Minnesota, which is why natural resource laws exist.

Jake Willis is a Minnesota State Conservation Officer covering the Brookston Station. Send your questions to outdoors@duluthnews.com.