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Pick huckleberries without damaging plant, Forest Service pleads

Huckleberries: tasty if not downright inspirational. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Huckleberries: tasty if not downright inspirational. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

NATIVE PLANTS -- The huckleberry bush, the most revered shrub in the Inland Northwest, is getting less respect as berry pickers succumb to greed.

Practices are getting so bad, the Forest Service has issued a media release warning that recently observed practices -- such as CUTTING OFF A BUSH SO BERRIES COULD BE MORE EASILY PICKED -- are against the law and punishable by a fine of up to $5,000.

My god.

It's safe to say most huckleberry plant abusers aren't among the families returning to their favorite huckleberry hot spots generation after generation.  None of these people wants to damage plants and reduce the harvest of future years.

However, many people may not realize the senseless and improper use of rake-like huckleberry pickers also damages the berry bushes. 

Meanwhile, read on for more information on the latest damaging practices reported by the Forest Service.

Currently, on the Nez Perce-Clearwater NFs, there are no regulations in effect for huckleberry picking. However, damaging and/or removing huckleberry bushes/brush on National Forest lands is a violation and can carry a penalty of up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $5,000 fine.

 In more than one instance, pickers have recently been observed cutting a pickup load of huckleberry brush and picking berries from the brush they cut.

Huckleberries grow on the current year’s growth of plant. If the plant is cut off at the ground, the plant is destroyed. Something else will grow in its place before the huckleberry can regrow, thus destroying the patch for future crops.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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