Regulate Mushroom Industry

dwheeler at dwheeler at
Wed Apr 22 13:32:15 EST 1998

The following article appeared in the Feb. 10, 1994 issue of The Oregonian.

By Dana Tims - Correspondent, The Oregonian

Summary: Some in state's congressional delegation welcome the Forest Service
action, which would feature a stricter sticker system

	The U.S. Forest Service has unveiled a new strategy for dealing with the
turmoil that has accompanied Oregon's rapidly growing commercial mushroom
	The proposal features a stricter permit system to guide the more than
4,000 pickers who foraged through Oregon for mushroom varieties that fetched
$250 a pound or more.
	The plan also requests legislation that would let the Forest Service keep
a portion of the revenue from commercial harvesting permits for its special
forest-products program.
	Some members of the state's congressional delegation welcomed the plan,
saying it amounted to a reversal of the agency's earlier claims that mushroom-
related violence and environmental damage did not constitute a more serious
problem than it could handle.
	"It's very significant," said Rep. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who represents the
1st District. "It's apparent that they now realize there has to be some major
changes in the program for managing a very fast growing Oregon crop."
	As evidence of the agency's intransigence on the issue, Wyden cited Forest
Service documents and statements issued in October. Agency officials,
responding to a letter of inquiry from Wyden and Rep. Bob Smith, R-Ore., said
at the time that much already was being done to address problems associated
with law enforcement and environmental damage.
	"It's a sign of the times," Wyden said of the new proposal. "These special
forest products are going to have a major impact on our state for years to
	Oregon's 1993 commercial mushroom harvest pumped an estimated $40 million
into the state's economy. An array of other forest products, including the
more than 500 kinds of truffles that grow in the forests of Oregon, California
and Washington, also are expected to provide increasing economic payoffs.
	Forest Service officials acknowledged that they were caught off guard by
the tremendous boom in mushroom picking in the past three years. But they said
the new proposal is far more due to the work of an internal study and review
team than it is to pressure from outside groups, including congressional
	"We certainly aren't looking at this as something that we just started
up," said Bob Devlin, director of timber management for the agency's Pacific
Northwest region. "We've been developing it all along."
	Commercial pickers may discover that the biggest single change they face
next year will be in the form of an entirely new permit, Devlin said.
	In reflecting the dramatically increased amounts of money being realized
from mushroom harvesting, the permits may well end up costing considerably
more than they have in the past, he said. The permits also will contain new
language specifying how pickers should go about removing the fragile
mushrooms, where pickers can camp and under what conditions they can light
	The new proposal also may empower individual ranger districts for the
first time to limit or cut harvesting off entirely in areas suffering from
	The key to making the program work may rest in proposed legislation that
would allow the agency to keep part of the money it receives for permits,
Devlin said. Currently, the special forest products program is financed by the
agency's timber program.
	"The problem is that timber sales have gone down dramatically while
special forest product needs are way up," he said. "We definitely need that
legislative change if we're going to give this program the attention it nees."

Posted as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler

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