PENDLETON — For avid mushroom pickers, spring begins when fungi return to the forest. Personal-use mushroom picking is free and does not require a permit or payment under the legal limits, which authorizes an individual to harvest, possess, or transport less than a gallon in Oregon and less than five gallons in Washington, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The free mushrooms are only available for personal consumption and cannot be sold, bartered, or given away, the release said. Those seeking to pick more than the free personal-use limit are considered commercial gatherers. To help slow the spread of COVID-19, forest supervisors on the Malheur, Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman national forests have postponed the issuance of commercial mushroom permits until 2021. Many commercial operations involve large crews that travel and camp together, which presents a social distancing challenge during the pandemic.
National Forest officials urge visitors to follow state health orders for Oregon, Washington and Idaho. At this time, all developed recreation sites — including campgrounds, trailhead facilities, picnic areas, rental cabins, Sno-Parks, and boat ramps — on the national forests are temporarily closed to slow the spread of COVID-19. While many forest roads, trails and areas remain open to the public, visitors are strongly urged to practice social distancing. Mushroom picking is not permitted in any botanical area, research area or in other areas closed by the forest service, including developed recreation sites.