The forest fires in two locations last year will be good locations for mushroom hunters this year...once the snow clears away.

Even though you can't get to the picking areas, you can get your mushroom picking permit right now at the Bitterroot National Forest offices. Only "personal use" permits are available now. They are free and allow a person to harvest 5 gallons of mushrooms per day with a 20 gallon per user limit for the season. Commercial permits will be issued later, according to public affairs officer Tod McKay.

Mushroom gathering will be allowed on 47,000 acres in two places - the 41 Complex fire on the east side of the valley near Skalkaho Highway and the Saddle Complex fire at the extreme south end of the valley, south of Painted Rocks Reservoir.

The mushroom season this year is expected to be from May through September. No special camping permits will be issued and harvesting is limited to hand picking.

Firewood Permits

If you want to get firewood from selected areas in the forest, you can get those permits now, too. The permit is good through March 31 of next year and the price is $7 per cord with a $28 (four-cord) minimum purchase. Load tickets will be issued to the permit holder and those tickets must be stapled to all loads of firewood coming out of the Bitterroot National Forest.

You need to check with local ranger stations about specific restrictions and remember - no wood can be cut or gathered within 150 feet of streams, creeks or waterways, and firewood gathering is prohibited in all developed recreation area, campgrounds and along Wild and Scenic River Corridors.