(Long) How many agroforestry products can you find?

truffler1635 at my-deja.com truffler1635 at my-deja.com
Wed Oct 4 12:01:35 EST 2000

Occasionally it is important to look back at agroforestry, to assess
where it is going. The following article first appeared October 30, 1988
in The Sunday Oregonian. Please note the date it was published.

Summary: Few rules govern the harvest of mushrooms, greens, herbs and
By JIM KADERA - of The Oregonian Staff

	Mushrooms, florist greens, medicinal herbs and an ingredient in cola
soda all have something in common.
	They are among many non-timber items harvested from Northwest
forests on a seasonal basis. But the land managers do not know who is
taking how much of what from where.
	If that seems confusing, it's becuase there is a night-and-day
difference between accountability for logging volumes and for the harvest
of other products. Foresters have a sophisticated system for selling and
tracking timber, the No. 1 commercial product. Accountability for
secondary products harvested for sale is hit and miss.
	Ranger districts in some national forests sell to the highest
bidders the opportunity to prune Christmas boughs from firs. But the same
districts may have people picking thousands of dollars worth of wild
mushrooms free for lack of a program to sell permits or contracts.
	"We have been geared to sell the traditional products, and these
other things are kind of ignored," said Robert Lease, head of timber sale
preparation and evaluation in the U.S. Forest Service regional office.
	Might the Forest Service chief's office push for improved regulation
over secondary products? "If we're going to do a good job, we'll have to
do that," Lease said.
	In Washington, law requires payment for commodities taken from
state-owned land for sale rather than personal use, but mushrooms and
some other secondary products have been unregulated.
	"We've been giving it away and breaking the law for some time," said
Kenelm Russell, a forest pathologist with the Washington Department of
National Resources in Olympia.
	Leases are sold for taking salal, boughs and other greens that go
into floral products, Russell noted. The state may begin to sell
mushroom-picking permits, perhaps at $10 per 200 pounds, he said.
	The department knows that huckleberries picked from state lands
sometimes end up in restaurant pies, but permits would not be sold
"unless it became a multimillion dollar deal," Russell said.
	Lease of the Forest Service indicated he had talked with an
Oregonian who said he could pick $300 worth of mushrooms from an acre of
forest in a day during a peak growing period. "A lot of this is an
underground economy. We should decide if we're going to elevate it to a
level of public awareness," Lease said.
	One of the experts on what is known as wildcrafting - gathering for
a living - is Anthony Walters of Sweet Home, an ethno-botanist and part-
time instructor at Oregon State University. Walters said he was the first
to pick and sell Oregon white truffles in 1980 for $160 a pound.
	"About two dozen resources are harvested from our forests on a
regular basis," Walters said. Two of the least regulated are Douglas fir
pitch, drained from living trees and sold for use as an adhesive or
ingredient in certain hair shampoos, and prince's pine, a plant related
to the rhododendron that is part of the flavoring in one brand of cola.
Immigrants from Vietnam are collecting increasing amounts of bear grass
used in making baskets.
	Walters has advised the Forest Service and others that more should
be learned about the extent to which secondary products are being
harvested and the degree to which they should be regulated. "If they
manage the trees and give away everything else, overharvest is bound to
happen," he said.
	Lease said the service did not know the value of secondary products.
"It doesn't show up clearly in our reporting process," he said.
	"When I came here eight years ago, there was little interest. Now
it's an emerging issue," said Charles Krebs, regional cooperative
forestry director for the Forest Service. Krebs and others are planning a
three-day symposium in Portland next autumn at which several hundred
persons from Oregon and Washington would get the best available
information on how to deal with the specialty products.
	Commercial picking is increasing as large numbers of mushrooms grow
at sites of recent forest fires, Krebs noted. "It's clear there are some
big dollars involved."
	Many of the mushrooms are exported to Europe, and some return to the
United States processed in cans for retailing, Lease said. Oregon food-
processing plants have seasonally idle capacity that could be used to
pack the mushrooms, he said.
	Russell said conflicts between personal use and commercial mushroom
pickers also are growing. "The conflict is when weekend pickers find the
woods swept clean by the commercial people. We're talking about
allocating areas," he observed.
	Jim Fisher, public affairs director for the Oregon Department of
Forestry, said a state forester saw 15 groups of people picking mushrooms
Friday in the Tillamook Forest west of Forest Grove. The department has
no rules on mushroom picking, but staff members have begun to discuss
concerns over loss of revenue and possible effects on forest
productivity, Fisher said.
	One of the unanswered questions is whether excessive mushrooms
gathering can impair the growth of nearby tres. Mushroom fungi are a link
in tree roots obtaining nutrients and are critical to the health of a
forest, Russell said. An experiment on mushroom picking in the Bull Run
watershed by a volunteer forester may provide background information on
the issue, he said.
	Yet another concern is whether mushrooms and other food or medicinal
items collected from forests may be contaminated before or after harvest
by chemicals or animal wastes, Walters said. State and federal agencies
have authority over food and drugs involved in commerce, but there are
wide gaps of enforcement in the wildcrafting industry, he pointed out.
	One of the best-regulated products is the harvest of boughs from fir
and red cedar for Christmas wreaths and related items. The Estacada range
district of the Mount Hood National Forest will spend only a few
thousands dollars to administer four contracts totaling $104,000,
according to Carson Hall, a silviculture technician.
	John McCain of Eugene was awarded one of those contracts for
$32,530. McCain has a crew of eight workers cutting, bundling and loading
a truck with branches from a 25-year-old noble fir plantation in the
hills above the south fork of the Clackamas River. Workers earn $6 an
hour or more, and most camp overnight at the site until the last boughs
are cut just before Thanksgiving, if they are not driven out sooner by
deep snow.
	"We have orders for 450,000 pounds of boughs. John has people
working, too, on other land," said McCain's father, Jack. Most of the
boughs are sold to wholesalers for wreath production, but Jack McCain
said he looks forward to delivering 20,000 pounds in November directly to
florists in Nevada and California.
	Secondary product sales in the Mount Hood forest totaled about
$220,000 in 1987, ranging from $6,000 for 6,800 Christmas trees to
$103,327 for 13,776 cords of firewood.

Comment by poster: Here are some of the agroforestry products mentioned
or implied above: mushrooms, floral greens, herbs, boughs, firewood,
berries, morels, chanterlles, Chicken of the Woods, maitake, Oysters,
blewits, Oregon White truffle, Oregon Black truffle, Oregon Gray truffle,
matsutake, boletes, puffballs, salal, huckleberries, pitch, prince's pine
(pippsissewa), bear grass, Christmas trees. BTW, Tony Walters, mentioned
in the above article, was the founder of the North American Truffling
Society, but is no longer associated with that non-profit organization.

The term "mushrooms" includes a great many species in the Pacific
Northwest. There are conservatively estimated thousands of species of
mushrooms located here. Probably over 100 species are currently collected
as "wild mushrooms" for gourmet restaurants and private consumers. Many
are ectomycorrhizal, which are essential for tree health. It is
interesting that the vast majority of economic forest fungi are
associated with just one tree species: Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga

The above was posted as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler

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