Spring has arrived and with it mushroom season has begun. Many kinds of edible mushrooms grow in Flathead County, including morels, chanterelles, shaggy mane, puffballs, boletes, and oyster mushrooms. The USDA Forest Service welcomes mushroom collecting on the Flathead National Forest, but emphasizes caution when foraging for mushrooms. Mushrooms can be difficult to identify properly; some poisonous mushrooms occur in our area and can be hard to distinguish from edible species. If in doubt, do not consume any wild mushrooms. Learn from experienced mushroom collectors and use a guide book to learn what is safe and what is not.
Take safety precautions when venturing out into the woods. Consider weather and road conditions before traveling. Avoid burned areas with many snags, especially during high winds. Let someone know where you intend on picking and remember that cell phone coverage is limited in many areas of the forest. Bring a free Flathead National Forest Motor Vehicle Use Map so you know what roads are open to vehicles and where they are. Mushroom collecting on the Flathead National Forest can require a permit, and commercial harvesting of mushrooms is prohibited.
The following are the 3 options for mushroom harvesting on the Flathead National Forest:
1.A PERSONAL USE CHARGE PERMIT is required for each person, to collect mushrooms within the 2015 Bear Creek and Trail Creek burned areas on the Spotted Bear Ranger District; and 2015 Glacier Rim, Sheep and Granite burned areas on the Hungry Horse/Glacier View Ranger District. Fees for Personal Use Charge Permits: $20 for 20 gallons; $40 for 40 gallons; $60 for 60 gallons; with a 60 gallon limit.
2.A FREE-USE PERMIT is required for each person, to collect between 5 and 20 gallons of mushrooms per season; excluding the 2015 Bear Creek, Trail Creek, Glacier Rim, Sheep and Granite burned areas. 5 gallons per day possession limit.
3.PERSONAL USE (recreational) -No permit is required for collecting up to 5 gallons of mushrooms per person, per season; excluding the 2015 Bear Creek, Trail Creek, Glacier Rim, Sheep and Granite burned areas. 1 gallon per day possession limit.
All mushrooms must be sliced lengthwise in half at the time of harvesting, in order to distinguish personal use from unauthorized commercial collecting. Permits are available at any Flathead National Forest office. For more information call Hungry Horse/Glacier View and Spotted Bear Ranger Districts at 406/387-3800; Tally Lake Ranger District at 406/758-5204; Swan Lake Ranger District at 406/837-7500, or visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/flathead/