Mushrooms

Monica Gokey / Boise State Public Radio

At 5:00 a.m., thick morning haze slowly gives way to daylight. In an area of the Pioneer burn designated for commercial morel picking, charred trees dot the forest. The ground is a mix of black ash and new plant life. 

Siong Lee of central California walks through the forest, eyes downcast. He is looking for something very specific: morel mushrooms. 

 

Lee and his picking partner spread out from each other, but stay in touch over walkie talkies, speaking their native language of Hmong.

Minutes go by without a single mushroom. Then . . .

Brian Stalter / Flickr Creative Commons

After the rain and warm weather southern Idaho has seen over the last few weeks, conditions are primed for wild morel mushroom hunting. The fungal plant is especially fruitful on burned forest land, which makes national forests a popular spot for morel picking.

Dave Olson is a spokesman with the Boise National Forest. He says the best time for morels is the first season after a wildfire, so 2014's relatively quiet wildfire season means this year isn't as good as in years past.