The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest is now issuing personal use mushroom permits (free) for the 2018 season. Morel mushrooms are expected to appear later this spring. The Forest will only be issuing personal use permits this year — commercial mushroom harvest permits will not be issued. However, permitted commercial picking is allowed on the Lolo and Kootenai National Forests and the following Ranger Districts: the Tally Lake RD of the Flathead National Forest; the Lincoln RD of the Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest; and the Bonners Ferry RD and the Sandpoint RD of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.
“We anticipate many of the mushroom gathering areas to be located within the burned areas of the 2017 Meyers and Little Hogback fires located on the Pintler Ranger District.,” commented Pintler District Ranger Cameron Rasor. “With the cool temperatures this spring and a lot of snowpack still remaining, mushrooms growth might be delayed.”
Mushroom seasons vary depending on local weather conditions and elevations but generally last from May through September. Personal use permits are free and available at all Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest offices. You are not allowed to sell any of the mushrooms collected under a free permit and are for personal use only. Mushrooms must be cut in half lengthwise from stem to cap at the time of harvesting. Free use harvesters have a five gallon per day (approximately two grocery bags) and 20 gallon per season limit.
The permits allow mushroom harvesting on National Forests in Montana, northern Idaho, and portions of North and South Dakota. It’s important to check with the local ranger station to see if there are any specific local restrictions or requirements.
Permits are not required for mushroom harvesters gathering small amounts, up to five gallons total per season (two grocery bags).
All harvesting is limited to hand picking – no heavy equipment is allowed. Motorized travel is restricted to open roads and trails only and parking along many forest roads is limited. Parked vehicles should not block traffic or impede fire or emergency vehicles.
Forest officials remind the public that the permit does not allow them to be on private property and they are responsible to know where harvesting is allowed. Be respectful of adjacent private lands and do not enter without permission. Water or services are not available at trailheads and people are required to pack out their garbage.
Harvesters need to exercise caution and be alert to hazards associated with recreating in burned areas. Hazards may include falling snags or trees, rolling rocks and debris and flash flooding/mud flows in areas without vegetation. Be aware of the numerous snags that have fallen over trails.
Forest users should use caution when crossing creeks and streams and be aware that the crossings may become impassable due to high water from snowmelt or flood events.
Finally, harvesters should use caution while driving on Forest Service roads. Many are not plowed during winter months and there is still snow at higher elevations. Roads and trails at lower elevations are experiencing snowmelt during the day and the resulting runoff freezes at night, creating sheets of ice that are dangerous to negotiate. Melting snow can also create soft roadbeds which when driven on can cause severe damage to forest roads. Avoid creating ruts and driving on soft roadbeds until they have had time to drain and harden.
The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest will be active enforcing mushroom permit rules as well as the rules and regulations that protect resources. An increased law enforcement presence at campgrounds and harvest areas will help the Forest manage potential impacts.
Harvesters are encouraged to pick-up their free 2018 Mushroom Guide featuring more tips and recommendations at all Forest Service offices.
Several National Forests in Montana and northern Idaho region are planning to offer commercial mushroom harvest permits later this spring. For more details visit http://bit.ly/r1mushrooms.