Mushroom foraging on most public land is legal – Indiana

HT Online
July 8, 2014


QUESTION: Good morning, and welcome to this morning’s chat with DNR conservation officer, Angela Goldman. Angela, thanks so much for joining us again here in the newsroom.

QUESTION: I’ve heard there are new rules concerning foraging for mushrooms off-trail on state property. Could you elaborate on your understanding of off-trail foraging?
Mitch Rice, Bloomington

ANGELA GOLDMAN: It is legal to hunt mushrooms on all state owned lands. This includes state parks, state forests, state fish & wildlife areas, and state recreational areas. The only restrictions are in nature preserves. You are allowed to hunt mushrooms if the nature preserve is a part of a state forest, state park, etc. If it is a standalone property, then the nature preserve makes their own rules.

It is legal to hunt mushrooms on any property in the Hoosier National Forest, as long as they are for personal use. Harvesting for commercial purposes is not allowed. Hunting in local city parks is up to that individual community parks department.

The new rule change simply clarifies that a person MAY go off the trail on state properties to hunt mushrooms. Most mushroom hunters never realized this was in question so it should not affect many
people. Just remember if you are going off trail to be aware of where you are, stay on property you have permission to be on, and carry a GPS with the location of your vehicle marked. Every year Conservation Officers are called out to find mushroom hunters who have lost their way.

One thought on “Mushroom foraging on most public land is legal – Indiana”

  1. I’ve been foraging edible and medicinal fungi for my own personal use in a locally-managed former reservoir property for the last seven years. I’m in the woods photographing and collecting fungi 9+ months out of the year. I take following the law seriously. I understand that locally-managed properties have their own rules. I stay within sight of the trails, for the most part–but there is a reason why state law was updated to specifically allow off-trail foraging: mushrooms typically do not grow on trails.

    I had never seen any guidelines referencing off-trail hiking activity, or foraging in general, for this particular property–until this year. Recently, signs have been posted in this property advising hikers to stay on marked trails “to protect the fragile ecosystem”. I don’t know anyone who takes conservation and stewardship of these fragile forest ecosystems more seriously than mushroom foragers. For myself, my hobby depends upon it. I leave no messes behind, and routinely pick up messes left behind by others. I’m respectful of plants and wildlife. I do not over-harvest the fungi I collect–and I know the act of collecting them in many cases assists in their propagation. I support the efforts of DNR and local officials to protect our forests, but I am not happy with the interpretation or enforcement of this rule.

    Now, because of the policies of a well-meaning city bureaucrat, I’m no longer permitted to enjoy activities I have been safely and responsibly engaged in for years. I find it immensely frustrating. While I intend to address this with the city, I’m not the least bit optimistic that I will get satisfaction.

    As an aside, this follows the loss of access to another favorite foraging area. The base commander at Crane decreed this year that foraging mushrooms anywhere on the installation is now forbidden. Past DNR policy allowed foraging in the “improved areas” around Lake Greenwood and in the housing areas, and the only restriction was harvesting mushrooms in designated explosive hazard zones. A Navy instruction that references “harvesting of plants and roots” as “unauthorized” was cited as the justification–never mind the fact that fungi are not “plants” or “roots”.
    Add this to the construction going on around and within other popular forests in Indiana, and the disparate interpretation of state laws that are pretty cut-and-dried, and the picture isn’t pretty for Hoosier mycophagists. If we don’t own property, it’s increasingly more difficult to enjoy the things we love without being harassed or interfered with.

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