People hoping for a share of the earthy mushrooms that often pop up after a wildfire can apply for a commercial harvesting permit for morels from the Methow Valley Ranger District starting Monday (May 2).
People can collect up to 5 gallons a day for their own use without a permit, as long as they carry a copy of the Free Incidental Use Mushroom Information Sheet while they’re foraging.
Commercial permits are required for anyone who plans to sell mushrooms or collect more than 5 gallons per day. Permits are $30 for two days, $80 for 30 days, and $100 for the season, which runs from May 2 through July 31.
Permits will be sold at the ranger district office in Winthrop. Maps are available for harvest areas in the Cedar Creek and Cub Creek 2 fire areas.
With the possibility that there will be a lot of mushroom pickers in burned areas, the U.S. Forest Service advises people that these areas are vulnerable as they recover from the fire. “As forest visitors search for mushrooms in our fire-affected lands, I ask you to keep in mind that these burned lands are exceptionally vulnerable to disturbance, and practicing leave-no-trace etiquette is very important,” Naches District Ranger Aaron Stockton said.
There is also the potential for hazards. “While hazard trees have been treated in developed sites, the same cannot be said for general forest areas. Mushroom pickers should be particularly aware of dead trees when they choose areas to park and stop for breaks or lunch. Dead trees may fall or have branches fall out of them unexpectedly,” Methow Valley District Ranger Chris Furr said.
The Twentyfive Mile Fire area in the Chelan Ranger District will be open for personal, noncommercial mushroom harvest only because it is drier and not expected to produce large quantities of morels. It will also provide an area where people harvesting morels for their own use don’t have to compete with commercial pickers.
The Forest Service has designated campgrounds for commercial pickers, which will have garbage dumpsters and toilets. There will be three camps in the Methow Valley Ranger District — at the Eight Mile dispersed camping site on the west edge of the Cub Creek 2 burn area, the Cedar Creek gravel pit on the north edge of the Cedar Creek burn area, and the Thompson Ridge gravel pit south of the Cedar Creek burn area.
Commercial harvesters are prohibited from camping in developed campgrounds, at trailheads, or in other high-use recreation areas.
The mushroom information sheet is can be printed from the forest website at https://go.usa.gov/xQ3YJ or picked up at the ranger district.