LAPEER COUNTY — Warmerthan usual spring temperatures has mushroom hunters out and about seeking the tasty morels. When collecting mushrooms, state wildlife officials advise that hunters should pinch them off at the stem, slightly above the soil. This technique minimizes the amount of dirt on the mushroom and encourages regrowth. Hunters should also avoid raking the forest floor, because raking has a negative impact on the ecology of the forest and overharvests the mushrooms. Proper collection encourages the growth of new mushrooms the following year.
Officials also caution to beware of poisonous mushrooms, because some false morels are poisonous and can cause people to get sick, sometimes fatally. The Michigan State University Extension has identified at least 50 types of poisonous mushrooms that grow in Michigan. The complete list in pdf format is available at web2.msue.msu.edu/bulletins/Bul letin/PDF/E2777.pdf
A key location for hunters is in areas where a prescribed burn or wildfire has taken place. A location guide for mushroom hunters in these areas is available at www.michigan.gov/documents/ dnr/2010MushroomReport_ 3170 26_ 7.pdf. DNR officials report that in forests where there has been a prescribed burn or wildfire, there is typically a larger crop of morels the following year.
Of note, many state parks and recreation areas also are open to mushroom hunters, with the exception of For-Mar Nature Preserve in Burton. To find maps with suitable ORV trails, public lands available for mushroom picking and types of vegetation, check out the Mi-HUNT map application.
The state also says that those who wish to search for mushrooms for personal use on state land do not need a permit. Mushroom hunters who use off-road vehicles to get into state forest lands are reminded that ORV use in the Lower Peninsula is restricted to designated and signed trails, routes and use areas. Persons who use state forest lands for camping are reminded they must fill out and post a free camp registration card, available at most DNR offices.