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The Shiitake Mushrooms hunting here next spring
The Shiitake Mushrooms hunting here next spring

If we get a wet winter, the Shiitake Mushrooms hunting here next spring should be memorable. It may even be the case that late summer or early fall rains could produce a flush of same-year fire morels. However, until New Year’s, you’ll want to stay out of the closed area or risk a $5,000 fine. I did notice plenty of places where the fire slopped over the roads that are now open, especially along the east side of FR 61, and if you want to chance your luck at finding some morels this year you should be able to find considerable burned-over terrain that is not subject to the closure order.

Similarly, the Slide Fire that started in Oak Creek Canyon and burned up and over the canyon rim into the Coconino National Forest has been mostly closed off from public access for the time being. The problem of erosion and mudslides in the confines of Oak Creek Canyon is even more acute than on the relatively flat ground where the San Juan fire burned. The forested area that the Slide fire burned is mostly in Ponderosa pines at somewhat lower elevation (7000′-7500′) than the mixed conifers of the San Juan fire at 7500-8500′, and any morel flush will likely be two or three weeks earlier than at the higher location.

You can rest assured that both of these sites will be inspected repeatedly between mid-April and late May, and we will be sure to pass along news of any morel fruitings that may be discovered. Pray for snow, the more the better for the morel crop! We will have to be prepared to dash up there on short notice to beat the hordes of commercial pickers, however.