Forest NTFP's

truffler1635 at truffler1635 at
Wed Oct 4 12:12:26 EST 2000

Here's another old article about NTFP's. As you read it, write them down.
A list follows. The following article appeared September 23, 1993 in The
Oregonian, during the infantcy of NTFPs.

By ERIC GORANSON - of the Oregonian Staff

Summary: The Zigzag Ranger District is trying to keep a favorite forest
area from being overrun with fungi hunters.

	For the first time ever, the U.S. Forest Service this fall will
limit the number of mushroom pickers in a section of the Mount Hood
National Forest.
	Only 250 maps will be issued each day for the Old Maid Flats area
north of Zigzag, said John Davis, a Forest Service special products
coordinator. The maps will expire at the end of the day.
	The limit is in effect now, although the season won’t start in
earnest until enough rain falls to encourage the growth of fungi.
	The mushroom limit, Davis said, could be a precursor of future
restrictions in the Cascades, where growing numbers of recreational and
commercial pickers are swarming into the woods to harvest products from
weeds to huckleberries and bear grass.
	It is possible, Davis said, that some day gates will be required to
keep people out, or staff members will be assigned to monitor what is
being taken out of the forest.
	Sealing off areas in the forest is something the Forest Service
vehemently has opposed in the past because the land is public domain.

Old Main Flats flooded

	The Old Maid Flats area has been so flooded with mushroom hunters in
recent autumns, Davis said, that both the resource and the forest floor
are being threatened. Old Maid Flats covers about 3,000 acres in the
Zigzag Ranger District.
	A partial survey of the area in 1992 counted more than 1,000
persons, 254 cars and divots all over the ground where people had turned
over moss while hunting for matsutake mushrooms.
	Zigzag officials have issued mushroom-picking permits for three
years, but this is the first season when pickers must possess a dated map
in addition to their permit.
	Pickers can obtain mushroom permits and maps, on a first-come,
first-served basis, at the Mount Hoot Information Center in Welches,
Davis said. When the maps dated for that day are gone, mushroom pickers
will be turned away. Davis said forest officials will confiscate the
mushrooms of people caught without valid maps.
	For decades, Davis said, the mostly Japanese-Amerians who came to
the national forest to pick mushrooms for their personal consumption
treated the land kindly. Harvesters put back overturned moss and other
debris, and they removed the mushrooms properly, so the fungi would grow

New breed of pickers

	Today, the attitude of a new breed of pickers is to take what’s
there and not worry about the future, Davis said.
	Spurred by the high prices paid by buyers, commercial mushroom
pickers carrying 10-gallon cans sweep through the forest in waves, he
said. Pickers have been held up, shot at and even killed in Oregon
	Personal permits allowing people to harvest matsutakes, morels,
chanterelles and truffles on national forest land cost $10. The permit,
good for 60 days, limits the picker’s daily harvest to 1 gallon.
	Commercial permits cost $10 a day but place no limit on the amount
of mushrooms that may be taken, a fact that irks some people who harvest
the fungi for their own kitchens. Davis said commercial permits are not
issued for the Old Maid Flats area.
	Many people also object to the $10 commercial fee because it has no
relation to the value of the matsutake mushroom, which sells for up to
$100 a pound in Japan.
	But mushrooms are just part of the Forest Service’s concerns.

- Bear grass is hot

	Bear grass, moss, huckleberries, Scotch broom, salal, Oregon grape,
laurel, ferns, chimaphila, manzanita, vine maple and even pussytoe, a
noxious roadside weed, are being taken in increasing amounts.
	The products are used for food and medicines and in landscapes,
floral arrangements and construction.
	Next to mushrooms, bear grass is drawing a lot of interest. Forest
Service personnel fear the competition for bear grass could lead to
conflict among pickers.
	Bear grass has become popular in floral markes and for making
baskets over the past decade. Tons of bear grass from the Cascades are
shipped throughout the United States and to Japan, Holland and Germany. A
handful of grass blades sells for $2 at Fred Meyer, David said.
	Harvest rules vary by districts, but Zigzag Ranger District
officials limit bear grass harvests to four areas an issue only 12 15-day
permits a year in each area.
	Each permit costs $450 and entitles the holder to harvest 3,000
poiunds of bear grass. Permit holders must describe the vehicles they use
in the harvest.
	In 1992, the Mount Hood National Forest grossed $10,320 from bear
grass permits, andthe harvest totaled 68,582 pounds.
	A person can pick between 100 pounds and 200 pounds of the grass a
day, Davis said. The grass sells for between 25 cents and $1 a pound,
depending on the season and the quality.
	This year, many bear-grass plants are being dug up. Several hundred
plants have been taken, Davis said. Permits are required to dig plants,
and only 15 plants can be taken on a permit.
	Since Southeast Asian immigrant do much of the harvesting, rules are
printed in Vietnamese, Cambodian, Hmong, French, Laotian and Mien, as
well as in English.
	Forest Service officials look at permit fees as one way of making up
revenue lost as a result of fewer timber sales. Some loggers fear the
shifting emphasis, but Davis said. Harvesting more than one resource was
not only feasible, it was good.
	He said the Forest Service had the responsibility of managing the
woods as an ecosystem, not merely of maintaining it as a giant public
tree farm.
	“It costs the Zigzag district $100 to $120 an acre to pre-thin a
stand of timber and $250 an acre to prune trees,” Davis said.
	“If we sell permits for bough harvests,” he said, “we get our
pruning done at no charge, make some money and provide light for bear
grass and huckleberries to grow while increasing the value of the trees
and providing for other users.”
	About 1,000 pounds of tree boughs can be harvested on each acre as
many as eight times before the trees become too large, Davis said.
	In the year ending Sept. 30, 1992, bough harvests netted Mount Hood
National Forest $7,542 in permit fees. Firewood fees earned $51,575. Bear
grass fees were next at $10,320.
	The extent of forest resources harvested illegally isn’t known. Last
year an estimated 30,000 pounds of moss were taken illegally in one area
alone. This year, someone illegally harvested bear grass flowers over 10
	Catching all violators is impossible with a small law enforcement
staff and a forest of a million acres, Davis said. One way of reducing
illegal harvests would be to put licensed buyers on Forest Service land
to track what’s taken, he said.
	But regardless, the public needs to be educated on how to maintain
the forest’s diversity.
	Moss hunters must stop what they are doing, said Davis, pointing to
a 3-by-4-foot area scraped free of moss on the forest floor. “It takes
year for the moss to grow back.”
	As a result, Zigzag now requires moss hunters to limit their harvest
area to a 12-inch wide strip no longer than 10 feet. The maximum size of
a harvest is 10 square feet in any 100-square-foot area.
	The Forest Service has rules governing nearly everything taken in
the woods, but the rules vary in each ranger district. Anyone interested
in removing something should check with a ranger station before going
into the forest, Davis said.

Comment by poster: The following NTFPs were mentioned. Matsutake, bar
grass, moss, scotchbroom, salal, Oregon grape, laurel, ferns, chimapila,
manzanita, vine maple, pussytoe, boughs, mushrooms. What is the value of
these products per acre? No one knows. Few studies still exist outside of
salal and some mushrooms, such as matsutake.

Daniel B. Wheeler

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