Personal and commercial harvest permits available
information released by Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
As snow melts off lower elevations across the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, those planning to forage for morel mushrooms will be able to purchase a commercial harvesting permit starting May 2.
Commercial permits, for those who plan to collect or possess more than five gallons of mushrooms per day or sell mushrooms, will be sold at Forest Service offices in Winthrop, Chelan, Cle Elum, and Naches. A two-day permit costs $30, a 30-day permit is $80, and a season permit is $100; the season runs from May 2 through July 31. Permits must be in the harvester’s possession when collecting mushrooms. Permits, and maps in six languages, are available for harvest areas in the Cedar Creek, Cub Creek 2, and Schneider Springs fire areas on the forest.
Harvesting mushrooms for personal use, up to five gallons per person per day, is free but individuals must obtain and carry a copy of the Free Incidental Use Mushroom Information Sheet with them while harvesting in lieu of a permit. This information sheet can be printed off the forest website at https://go.usa.gov/xQ3YJ
and is also available at local national forest offices.
“Depending upon how prolific the mushroom crop is, we could see a large number of mushroom harvesters coming to pick in areas of the forest that burned in 2021,” said Naches District Ranger Aaron Stockton. “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. Fire affected forests may be teaming with sought after mushrooms, but they present a set of challenges not found in non-burned forests. Please be aware of your surroundings and be familiar with the additional hazards associated with these types of areas,” he added.
For those who may not have harvested mushrooms before, it is very important to be aware of your surroundings. “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,” said Methow Valley District Ranger Chris Furr.
The Twentyfive Mile fire area on the Chelan Ranger District will be open for personal, non-commercial mushroom harvest only. “We decided that personal use is best for this particular area because the forest types in the Twentyfive Mile drainage are drier and are not expected to produce large amounts of mushrooms. This will also provide personal use pickers an area to hunt for mushrooms outside of the commercial permitted areas,” Chelan District Ranger Kari Grover-Wier said.
Commercial harvesters camping overnight are encouraged to utilize designated camps, where garbage dumpsters and toilets will be placed to minimize impacts. Three camps will be up and running the first weekend in May in the Methow Valley Ranger District area including 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, west of Twisp. The Naches Ranger District has not designated camping sites for commercial harvesters around the Schneider Springs burn area but will provide dumpsters and porta-potties at strategic sites. Commercial harvesters are prohibited from camping in developed campgrounds, at trailheads, trailhead parking areas, or other high use recreation or special use areas.
“While there are thousands of acres open to mushroom harvesting, folks need to be aware of prohibited areas too, like Wilderness,” Grover-Wier added. “By respecting the rules and minimizing impacts, mushroom harvesting can continue to be a sustainable forest product and in turn, can benefit local businesses and communities.”