Little is known about of the harvest of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) in state forests of the southern U.S. Forest Service scientists asked the state forestry agencies in all 13 southern states about the products and the policies regulating harvest, as well as evidence of illegal harvest and effects of harvest on biodiversity. Of the 12 southern states that have state forests, seven allow some harvest of NTFPs and have policies and practices in place to regulate harvest activities. Of those seven, six have evidence of illegal harvesting. In states that do not allow harvest, illegal harvest may be occurring, but it is not detected. The most common products cited were pine straw, pine cones, and live plants used for transplants into nurseries and landscaping. Only two states had enough data on the impacts of harvest to say that there is no negative effect on biodiversity. The states that allow harvest have limited data to draw conclusions about the impact and sustainability of those harvests. Forest managers pride themselves on making science-based decisions for the long-term good, often balancing economic benefits from harvests with ecological sustainability and limiting environmental impacts. Good decision-making is challenged by the lack of economic and ecological research regarding NTFP harvest. Data collection could start by monitoring economic use and ecological impacts of a few prominent NTFPs. Engagement with the harvester community may provide opportunities to identify impacts and improve stewardship.