With melting ice and pooling mud, local foraging opportunities are becoming more available to the people of Lincoln. One organism that thrives in this slightly warmer, wetter weather is the sometimes stinky, but often tasty, mushroom. Throughout Lincoln and its surrounding areas, there are various locations where one could hunt for mushrooms.
As winter thaws and warmer weather approaches, one particular type of mushroom is prized — the morel. Morels have the appearance of a slightly mushy honeycomb. They are commonly found along the Missouri River but have also been known to spring up in dense, wet forests. Once the soil temperature reaches roughly 50 degrees Fahrenheit, these sneaky mushrooms will begin to sprout. Listed below are several parks in which the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission allows the hunting of these morels.
Eugene T. Mahoney State Park
This park sits along the spacious Platte River. Because of this location, morels can be found in many beaches and swampier areas. Because of flooding and erosion, moisture spreads to the surrounding woodlands, meaning morels are not confined to the river’s coastal areas. However, they are most commonly found in the forested areas directly adjacent to rivers.
Platte River State Park
In this state park, there are very few beach areas — despite its river and various creeks. This means morels could be hiding just a few feet from small streams and creeks. With the park’s relatively steep cliffs, it is especially important to be careful when looking at the water’s edge in this park. It’s important to take precautions when hunting is going on in the area. This can be done by avoiding traps, animal decoys and other signs of hunting activity and wearing brightly colored clothing to distinguish yourself from the foliage.
Schramm Park State Recreation Area
Schramm Park State Recreation Area also borders the Platte River. It features old fish hatcheries and ponds that travel far up into the forest. This added moisture could make it easier to find morels. It would be potentially beneficial to begin one’s search near the edge of the river and comb the land up into the forest, following the ponds and areas that are most dense and moist.
Pawnee Lake State Recreation Area
While Pawnee Lake is mostly known for its great fishing spots and rocky, murky waters, there is also an excellent opportunity for morel hunting. Morels will not be in the lake’s sandy beaches. Thus, it’s not worth it to comb the beach. Simply move to the areas bordering the beach, which tend to have more trees and more shade.
Remember to stay safe when mushroom picking this spring. Wear bright clothing to distinguish yourself from the surrounding foliage, check your harvest with an expert before eating and follow all rules created by and enforced by wildlife management. The season for morel mushroom hunting is almost here, and with these tips and ideal locations, anyone can go out and forage some fungi.