‘Tis The Season For Mushroom Hunting In National Forests
After the fire, that's when the 'fungi' really starts.
A devastating fire season in the Flathead National Forest last year is bringing mushroom hunters out in droves looking for their favorite fungi, the Morel.
Public Information Officer Janette Turk said the mushroom gathering season has been underway for quite some time on the Flathead National Forest.
"The mushroom season starts basically with the weather," Turk said. "Once the weather warms up, mushrooms will start 'popping', as the mushroom hunters say, and as long as we get rain and then more warming, the mushrooms continue to grow. Since they grow at different elevations, this could be a long mushroom season on the forest."
Turk said there is no commercial harvesting allowed on the Flathead National Forest.
"We have personal use, with no permit required," she said. "You can gather up to five gallons of mushrooms per person. This excludes certain areas where there was a lot of fire in 2015. At that point, we move up to a per use permit for from five to 20 gallons per person. This is a way for us to track how many people are out there gathering mushrooms, and that's $20 for up to 20 gallons. We hand out maps for folks to know where they're going so there's lots of opportunities and options."
Turk said because there are no commercial pickers, the confrontations are kept to a minimum, but that doesn't mean they don't happen.
"Right now, we have our local mushroom community and I'm sure some folks coming up from Missoula, but we have so many areas of burned forest, it hasn't been an issue," Turk said. "If it becomes more of an issue, we'll have extra patrols up there to make sure people are playing nice, but by no means are we going to be out there refereeing who's in somebody else's turf. You're on your own."
Turk said the one think to watch out for in the burned areas is the wind.
"When it gets windy, snags can come down and injure people, so we advise people to be cautious in the Flathead National Forest," she said.