Oregon – Crater Lake National Park Rangers seized more than 234 pounds of morel mushrooms illegally harvested over the Fourth of July weekend, park officials announced Monday. The mushrooms were harvested from burnt woods at the park.
The national park rangers worked along officials from the Oregon State Police, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. An investigation led to contact dozens of individuals suspected of the crime.
“We are thankful for the assistance of neighboring law enforcement agencies and want to remind the public that mushroom harvesting is not permitted anywhere in Crater Lake National Park,” chief ranger Kean Mihata stated in a press release.
Harvesting mushrooms from national parks is an illegal activity
Harvesting mushrooms is forbidden in national parks, and can be punished with fines up to $5,000 and up to 6 months in jail.
However, harvesting is allowed in certain areas of national forest. A person can gather no more than 5 gallons of mushrooms for personal use without a permit, and selling or trading the mushrooms is prohibited. If the individual wishes to collect more than 5 gallons for commercial purposes, they need to count with a charge use permit.
During a fire in the summer of 2015 in the National Creek Complex – the largest one in the recorded history of the park -, a total of 20,960 acres were burned in Crater Lake National Park and the Pogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. The burnt areas have been the ideal environment for the growth of morel mushrooms.
Mushrooms are vital components of forest ecosystems, officials stated. They play a significant role in the forest nutrient cycle, feeding wildlife and providing nutrients for plants and help them grow.
“Help us keep this place intact so that ecological processes can play out naturally here. These processes are part of what makes the park special,” Mihata added in the press release.
Morel mushrooms are considered a delicacy. A pound can cost up to $20 on the retail market. Park officials estimated a value of $7,944 for the confiscated mushrooms during the weekend.
Crater Lake National Park rangers seized 234 lbs of illegally harvested morel mushrooms over the 4th of July weekend https://t.co/xiG3WqJjnR
— KTVZ NewsChannel 21 (@KTVZ) July 11, 2016
Source: Oregon Live