Greatest Permanent Value

dwheeler at teleport.com dwheeler at teleport.com
Thu Apr 9 01:14:01 EST 1998


In Volume 37, Number 2 of Mushroomers, Maggie Rogers notes that the Oregon
State Forester is directed to "secure the greatest permanent value by activaly
managing lands as forests to provide sustainable timber harvest and revnue to
the state, counties and local taxing districts in a way that provides for
other forest values through considerable environmental safeguards."

Considering the economic impact that native fungi have had on the economy
within the last 17 years, I wonder how this can be accomplished without
including fungi.

Matsutake, for instance have reached over $500 per pound in two years within
the last 10. It seems possible that will happen again in the future. Since a
single mushroom can be anywhere from 1/4 to over a pound in weight, ignoring
this resource seems contraindicated to "secure(ing) the greatest permanent
value..."

My own culturing/enhancement of truffles at private tree stands under 1,000
feet elevation in Oregon indicates that several truffle species co-exist with
the same trees, and frequently produce substantial quantities of high-value
fungi. I have found, for instance, Leucangium carthusiana and Tuber gibbosum
fruiting side-by-side in 20-year-old stands of Douglas fir. While no one knows
at this time how long such fruitings continue, it would not be unreasonable to
assume trees would continue this production for 30 years or more.

Some data suggests considerably more.

I have found Tuber gibbosum with trees over 4 feet in diameter at chest height
near Valsetz Lake, Oregon which had this truffle fruiting nearby.

Yet the funding for studies of such fungi has decreased dramatically in the
last 16 years. This seems counter-productive to the "greatest permanent value"
clause quoted above.

In December of last year, Rex Schwartzendruber reported seeing 3 individuals
coming out of land he had just obtained commercial picking rights to, carrying
"35 gallons of (Oregon White) truffles" out of the stand. In my experience a
gallon of truffles contains 4-7 pounds. This may have been a single day's
harvest. I have estimated the property owner lost several thousand dollars of
product that day without realizing he'd been robbed! Had a similar amount of
timber been cut, he would have been rightfully incensed.

But because the truffles are found generally underground, the landowner had no
idea of their existence or value.

This is why I _insist_ on harvesting/cultivating truffles on private timber
land. To my knowledge, Rex and I are the only truffle hunters who pay
royalties to the landowner on truffles we harvest.

It is my suspicion that fungi are, without question, the "greatest permanent
value" available from live trees. And because of this the face of forestry
must change. When a tree can produce several hundred dollars of fungi each
year for 30 years, there is little economic incentive to harvest it.

Daniel B. Wheeler

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