HELENA – With new burn areas in the state, the U.S. Forest Service is anticipating a bumper crop of morel mushrooms as a result from these fires.
Mushroom gatherers will need to get their Incidental Use Permit or Personal Use Charge Permit from the Forest Service.
The Incidental Use Permit is free and allows for the harvest of up to one gallon a day and a total five gallons per season.
The Personal Use Charge Permit allows for the harvest of up to 300 gallons for the season with a daily limit of five gallons. The cost is $1 per gallon with a minimum purchase of 20 gallons.
Morel mushrooms often fruit prolifically in the years immediately after an area has been burned by wildfire. In 2017, the Northern Region saw approximately 700,000 acres of burn, and the mushroom crop is likely to be excellent. Several thousand people are expected to come to harvest morels, including both commercial and personal-use mushroom pickers.
Mushrooms are considered a “forest product” and various levels of permits, both free and for sale, may be required to collect them.
The Forest Service is also asking people to take extra care while in these burned out areas.
Kathy Bushnell of the Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest says that the dead or damaged trees can pose a significant threat and are much more likely to fall.
“Definitely be aware of your surroundings and what the area is like standing dead trees. Also pick the day you go out,” says Bushnell, “If it’s really windy we would encourage people to find a different day to go out.”
People are encouraged to get a guidebook to ensure that the mushrooms they’re harvesting are edible.
For more information about the 2018 Morel Mushroom Harvest visit their website.
A map of mushroom harvest opportunities can be found here.