OUTGATHER – Fire-fighting managers and insurance companies aren’t the only groups poring over maps of the area burned by last summer’s Carlton Complex wildfires.
A bumper crop of mushrooms may burst from the charred earth.
Savvy people who pick, buy and sell morels start scoping out last year’s big wildfires to decide where to focus their energy for this year’s harvest.
The 256,000-acres that burned in the largest wildfire in Washington history could hold a mother lode.
While it may be a few weeks to a month before these highly-prized mushrooms start pushing through the blackened earth, the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest is preparing for an onslaught of commercial pickers and buyers who travel the West each year in search of morels.
“They’re already looking and waiting for evidence that it’s going to be a bumper crop or a no-show,” said Stuart Woolley, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest resources staff officer.
Two Sno-Park lots on the Methow Valley Ranger District will be equipped with garbage containers, portable toilets and information signs – in five languages, he said.
Permits for harvesting morels commercially go on sale on April 20. Recreational mushroomers pay no fee for gathering up to three gallons a day from national forests for personal use.
Mushroomers must obtain permission to go on private land.
Morels tend to grow most abundantly in the late spring and early summer in areas that burned the previous summer.
Other gathering hot spots include controlled burns that were set purposely last fall to improve habitat.
With snow melting off earlier this year, Forest Service staffers say morels could show earlier than usual. But there’s no scientific way to determine where morel mushroom hunting will be best, Woolley said.
Variables like soil moisture, temperature and winds determine when the mushrooms start growing, and season length.
Most local ranger districts will have maps and information.
Roosevelt levels holding
OUTFLOW –Lake Roosevelt shouldn’t need further drawdown to handle runoff, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says.
The level behind Grand Coulee Dam was 1,253 feet above sea level Friday, and the elevation is expected to remain in the range of 1,252-1,255 until May 10.
That’s about 20 feet higher than the 2014 drawdown to handle Columbia River spring flows.
Whitewater safety talk
OUTROW – Paul Green, veteran outdoor recreation instructor at EWU will present a program on whitewater safety on Monday, 6 p.m. at Jack and Dan’s Tavern, Hamilton and Sharp.
Bank on next winter
OUTSKI – Early-purchase discounts on season passes for the 2015-16 season are ending this week at some ski resorts. Buy now or pay more later.
Despite a grim winter, some resorts, such as 49 Degrees North, say they will be make improvements this summer.
Bloomsday deadline soon
OUTRUN – Spokane’s 39th annual Bloomsday run is May 3. Entry deadline is Tuesday. Info: bloomsdayrun.org.
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