- Associated Press - Sunday, April 27, 2014

BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) - Some mushroom hunters are objecting to Kitsap County’s recent restrictions on recreational harvesting.

The county adopted the rules last fall after one of the best mushroom-picking seasons in decades drew crowds of hunters to county parks, The Kitstap Sun reported (http://bit.ly/PINMKM ). County Forester Arno Bergstrom said officials received complaints about over-picking, trespassing on private land near parks and about the trampling of the forest.

“People were walking out with multiple five-gallon buckets,” Bergstrom said. “Some had garbage bags so full that they couldn’t carry them.”

The restrictions limit pickers to one gallon per day and prohibit the harvesting of chanterelles less than an inch across. Restrictions already exist on state and federal land, but mushrooming enthusiasts say Kitsap is the only county in Washington with such limits.

The Kitsap Peninsula Mycological Society, a nonprofit collection of about 200 members, said the rules are unprecedented and unfair, and that they were adopted without public input.

“The rules, we think, exist illegally,” board member Andrew MacMillen said. “We don’t have a problem with some regulation. But we can’t agree with regulations (created) without input or due process.”

The real problem is that commercial pickers “nuke” forestlands with overzealous harvesting practices, he said.

“The impact has been heavy,” he said. “But the impact is from the commercial side, and I think they are the ones that need more regulation and oversight.”

County officials have not backed away from the rules, but they have indicated they are in flux. Bergstrom is forming a committee to advise park officials on mushroom-harvesting policies. Members of park stewardship groups and the mushrooming society have been invited to participate.

The committee will explore the possibility of requiring permits for recreational harvests; such permits are already required for commercial harvesters. Bergstrom has suggested that the permit could be free and available online and from park stewards.

Permits would help park officials keep tabs on how pickers are using county parks, Bergstrom said.

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Information from: Kitsap Sun, http://www.kitsapsun.com/