British Columbia

Mushroom-picking restrictions hailed a success by B.C. First Nation

Restrictions and permits for morel pickers put in place by the Tsilhqot'in First Nation are being called a success, after harvesters and campers were more respectful than previous years, according to Chief Joe Alphonse.
A basket of freshly picked morels. (Submitted by Ceila Auclair)

The Tsilhqot'in Nation in B.C.'s Interior says regulations over mushroom picking and harvesting on its traditional territory have been a great success.

"It was a good season," said Tsilhqot'in Chief Joe Alphonse. 

The destructive 2017 wildfires made for particularly good growing conditions for morel mushrooms, and a bumper crop began appearing throughout B.C.'s Interior this spring. That drew more people to the area to harvest the delicacy.

Amid concern that the large number of visitors had the potential to harm culturally and biologically sensitive land, local First Nations began regulating morel picking within their territories.

"In the past we've seen mushroom pickers come in with no regulations whatsoever and at the end of it all they've left is a big mess behind," Alphonse told Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce.

"We want to be part of the responsibility managing these lands," he said.

'Nervous time'

In May, the Tsilhqot'in National Government announced it would be issuing permits to those wishing to harvest mushrooms on traditional territory.  

They also closed sacred and sensitive areas to the public.

Permits and closures were monitored by RCMP, conservation officers and Tsilhqot'in land rangers.

In general, campsites were kept clean and pickers were respectful of restrictions, according to a release from the Tsilhqot'in National Government.

"We haven't really done this at this scale before," Alphonse said.

"It was a nervous time for us. You don't know how things are going to roll out.

"There's a lot to consider. There's sensitivity to the land, to sacred sites, to private properties. You try to get all the users to cooperate and come on board."

With files from Daybreak Kamloops

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