May through September in the Bitterroot National Forest can be harvest time for edible mushrooms. The different elevations in the mountains allow for a long season for the fungi. The mushrooms seem to like to grow in the recently burned areas. And, many people are looking for the tasty morel mushrooms.

Each year, the Bitterroot National Forest issues personal mushroom permits. This year, no commercial permits will be available, but the personal permits are free and allow a person to pick up to 5 gallons per day, which is about two regular grocery bags. There are some rules:

  • Mushrooms can only taken from National Forests in Montana, northern Idaho and portions of North and South Dakota.
  • Check with the local ranger station before venturing out.
  • Mushrooms must be cut in half from stem to cap at the time of harvesting, so have a sharp knife.
  • You are limited to 5 gallons per day with a season limit of 20 gallons.
  • The mushrooms are for personal use and can not be sold.
  • Hand picking only - no heavy equipment.
  • Be careful in burned areas - falling trees above and burned root holes below.
  • Early in the season, be careful with high water in streams.
  • By the way, for very small amounts of mushrooms gathered, no permit is needed. You are limited to five gallons a day. There are free 2018 Mushroom Guide publications at Forest Service offices. Commercial mushroom permits are planned in other national forests, but not the Bitterroot.